Till (2022)
August 23, 2023 3:35 PM - Subscribe

The true story of Mamie Till Mobley's relentless pursuit of justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till, who was lynched while on a summer vacation visit to his cousins in Mississippi in 1955.

About the Film

Till is a 2022 biographical drama film directed by Chinonye Chukwu and written by Michael Reilly, Keith Beauchamp, and Chukwu, and produced by Beauchamp, Reilly, and Whoopi Goldberg. It is based on the true story of Mamie Till-Bradley, an educator and activist who pursued justice after the murder of her 14-year-old son Emmett in August 1955. The film stars Danielle Deadwyler as Mamie and Jalyn Hall as Emmett. Kevin Carroll, Frankie Faison, Haley Bennett, Jayme Lawson, Tosin Cole, Sean Patrick Thomas, John Douglas Thompson, Roger Guenveur Smith, and Goldberg also appear in supporting roles.

The film was officially announced in August 2020, though a project about Emmett Till's murder had been in the works for several years prior. Much of the main cast joined the following summer, and filming took place in Bartow County, Georgia that fall. It is the second major media property based on Mamie Till to be released in 2022, following the television series Women of the Movement. The film is dedicated in memory of Mamie Till's life and legacy and its release coincided with the October 2022 unveiling of a statue in Emmett Till's memory in Greenwood, Mississippi.

Till had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival on October 1, 2022, was theatrically released in the United States on October 14, 2022, by United Artists Releasing, and was released in the United Kingdom on January 6, 2023, by Universal Pictures. The film received positive reviews, with Deadwyler's performance garnering widespread acclaim, and was named one of the best films of 2022 by the National Board of Review. It has grossed $11 million against a production budget of $20 million.


The film uses 27 years' worth of research by Keith Beauchamp, whose efforts led to the reopening of Emmett Till's case by the United States Department of Justice in 2004.

It is noted several times that Emmett's father died overseas in military service. In fact, he was executed in 1945 after being court-martialed for killing one and raping two other Italian women. He and Mamie had divorced in 1942, and a court obliged him to enlist after violating a restraining order. The Army only told Mamie he had been executed for "willful disobedience", and the full truth wasn't revealed until 1955.

Simeon Wright, Emmett Till's cousin and an eyewitness of the event, served as a consultant to the project until his death on September 4, 2017.

In an interview on "Fresh Air" on NPR on November 1, 2022, director Chinonye Chukwu indicated that she didn't let Danielle Deadwyler (playing Emmett Till's mother, Mamie) and Sean Patrick Thomas (portraying Gene Mobley) and a few other characters actually see the made-up body that portrayed Emmett's mutilated corpse until they started shooting the scene.

Keith Beauchamp, the writer and producer of the film, had previously made the 2005 documentary The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till.

Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were found not guilty and acquitted before confessing to Emmett Till's murder in an interview with journalist William Bradford Huie.

The TV screens in this movie, even though they have rounded corners and display black and white video in low quality, are obviously cleverly disguised modern LED screens, not 1955 vintage TVs: the picture is stable, there is no noise, no snow, no wavering sound.

In the beginning, after Emmett sings the Bosco chocolate syrup jingle he gives a High Five to Gene. However, the High Five wasn't part of African-American or American culture in the '50s.

The cover of Jet Magazine on Sept 15 1955 featured Beverly Weathersby on the cover and not Emmett Till and his mother with her fiancé as depicted in the film. The article about Till's horrendous murder including photos was featured in the interior of the magazine.

Content Advisory

If anyone who is considering watching this movie is concerned about how graphic the violence will be, the scene of the torture and murder of Emmett Till is conveyed through distant audio only, no visuals, and the only really graphic images in this movie are that of his corpse.
posted by orange swan (1 comment total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This movie had a fine cast, but Danielle Deadwyler really carried and dominated it, portraying Mamie's anguish over her son as such an all-consuming force that it left scant room for anything else. I'm embarrassed to say I didn't even realize Whoopi Goldberg played Mamie's mother until I was preparing this post afterwards. In my defense, Goldberg disappeared into the role in a way that is rare for her, because she usually plays Whoopi Goldberg, but I was so taken up with Deadwyler's performance that I barely even looked at her -- I certainly would have recognized her if I had taken a good look at her face.

The contrast between the comfortable life Mamie and her son were living in Chicago, where they lived in a nice house in a thriving Black community, where Mamie had a job just as good as most white women could get at the time, and where racism tended to take the form of microaggressions that could be fended off with a show of respectability, good manners, and spirit, and the terrifyingly brutal environment in Mississipi, was well-played. No wonder Mamie was so terrified for him, even before she had reason to think anything was wrong. Emmet Till was a sweet, happy-go-lucky boy who'd been surrounded by love and care, and who walked straight into a lion's den serenely unconscious of the dangers he faced. Mamie had tried to prepare him but he didn't have a true understanding what he was dealing with at all. How could he possibly have had any conception of such monstrous hate and licence?

I was so here for the unfolding story of Mamie Till Mobley becoming an avenging angel after her son's murder. It is so heartrending and enraging that she never got any justice whatsoever, that the murderers never faced any prison time, even when they confessed what they had done to a fucking reporter some years later. At least she saw some progress in the civil rights movement, and knew that she had made a difference in that, that her son's story did not go unheard and was not forgotten.

I winced over the sight of Emmet's family and neighbours forcing themselves to look at his mutilated body in the casket. I know it was important for his casket to be left open, to force complacent, ignorant white people to realize just how horrific U.S. racism was, but I didn't think the members of a 1950s Black community should have to undergo that. It's yet another facet of injustice that fighting it often involves the victim laying themselves bare in an effort to get their message across.
posted by orange swan at 2:10 PM on August 28, 2023

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