The movie “The Burial” is currently showing on the “Prime Video” platform. The 2023 Toronto Film Festival witnessed its first cinematic premiere, then it was shown at the “Palm Springs” Festival, where it won the Best Direction award.
The film stars Jamie Foxx and Tom Lee Jones in a strong return for each of them, the first due to a sudden health problem that caused him to lose consciousness for a long time, and the second has been absent from the big screen since 2020.
A true story brought to life by cinema
The film “The Burial,” which received a rating of 90% on the Rotten Tomatoes website, is adapted from an article published by “The New Yorker” in 1999 under the same title by the writer “Jonathan Harr,” and both the article and the film revolve around a case that caused a great uproar in the American South.
The film introduces us at the beginning to its hero, the first, “Jeremy O’Keefe,” played by Tom Lee Jones, a 75-year-old man who owns several funeral homes in the American South, and has 13 boys and girls, all of whom are married and have given birth, making him the head of a tribe with more than Of 70 people, he only dreams of leaving a large financial legacy to them, befitting the life he spent investing in the company he inherited from his father many years ago.
The African-American lawyer “Willie Gary” appears, and his character is played by Jamie Foxx. He is a self-made man who began his career as a result of the racism that befell him when one of the building owners refused to house him because of his dark skin. He goes to study law and works in law to achieve huge wealth, in addition to a stable family life.
The lives of both Jeremy and Willie seem to be on two parallel paths that cannot intersect, until Jeremy is defrauded by one of the giant companies in the funeral field, which tries to take him out of the market and bankrupt him in order to seize his business.
Despite the difference in race of the two men, both of them are from an honorable, self-made background. They achieved their success thanks to their efforts, and in the same trench in front of the capitalist powers and major commercial companies.
At first glance, the movie “The Burial” appears like an ordinary trial movie, criticizing capitalism that subjugates family entrepreneurs to multinational companies, and exploits the money of the poor to fuel the gluttony of its bosses who own yachts and private planes. However, criticism of capitalism intersects with criticism of another social scourge, which is racism and discrimination based on race. .
Many films that mixed racism with the court theme, such as “A Time to Kill” in the mid-1990s and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” highlighted the efforts of the white lawyer to acquit the black defendant of the crime, but in “ “Burial” is exactly the opposite of what happens, as the hero of African descent is the bearer of the standard of justice.
The black American dream
Throughout the history of cinema, many films have been produced that take place in the corridors of courts, relying mainly on the characters of lawyers who attract viewers to take a position on the case at hand, but the film “The Burial” presented this topic in a different way, because it was not only concerned with what was going on before the judge. , but with the relationship that was woven between the lawyer and his client, Jeremy and Willie.
This relationship necessitated leaving the courthouse in which filming was the norm in this type of film only, which opened a wider horizon for the film to showcase the city located in the American South, so that cinematography highlights the difference between the wealthy white side of the city and the black side where its members live. In poverty.
Director Maggie Bates presented the opening scenes in bright sunlight during a party held by Jeremy’s family, while the film ends in the remote areas surrounding the city, where Willie’s family lives, as well as the poor families who are exploited, and here the lighting decreases and focuses on the faces of the characters who are talking about their tragedy, to highlight This contrast in the image is the use of lighting between the two social classes: the rich white one lives and is photographed in the light, while the poor one has darkness in her world.
The soundtrack also played a role in the narrative and was not just a complementary element. The lawyer of African descent is proud of the music produced by members of his race, which can be distinguished by simply hearing it. The importance of this music and the meaning behind it is clearly evident in the scene in which he tells the story of his expulsion from the house that he wanted to rent. .
In it, the director used the song “Feels Good,” and then the same song was used again in the final chapter of the film, which witnessed Jeremy’s victory, but this time in the words of the latter, so that the white man borrowed the black lawyer’s music as evidence of the strength of the relationship between them. As well as using art to break down the barriers between white and black as long as they are united in the face of capitalism.
The movie “The Burial” relied on Jamie Foxx’s performance of a character who carries his own contradictions. He is a successful, proud man who loves the spotlight, but at the same time he carries a strong social sense that makes him defend the oppressed, regardless of the color of their skin. He rose above the racism he was exposed to in order to… Save Jeremy White.
But all the other characters suffered from marginalization next to the character of “Willie.” For example, none of Jeremy’s children appeared as if their father was not fighting a battle on which the family’s life depended.
While very limited space was allocated to both my wives, Jeremy and Willie, and the opposing lawyer, “Mammy,” whose name has broader connotations than just being a traditional name. It refers viewers’ minds to the most famous character bearing this name in the history of cinema, which is “Mammy” from the movie “Gone with the Wind.”
That character who worked as a maid for the Southern family during the Civil War, and continued to support it, and critics consider her until now to be just a “stereotype” promoted by white filmmakers for black characters, which is something that the opposing lawyer also does in this movie, as she defends a white man who steals the money of the poor with all sincerity. Comfortable.
The film “The Burial” is a work that at first glance appears traditional, like any film whose events take place in the corridors of the courts, but its director made simple changes that made all the difference, turning it into a work that carries big issues, but at the same time is very entertaining.