Movie review: ‘Till’ is beautiful art film about ugly racism

Winford Hunter
Jalyn Hall as Emmett Till and Danielle Deadwyler as Mamie Till Bradley star in Till, directed by Chinonye Chukwu. Credit: Lynsey Weatherspoon/Orion Pictures

Till is a hauntingly told historical drama about the 1955 abduction, torture and lynching of 14-year-old Chicagoan Emmett Till in the Jim Crow South, as told through the impassioned, sorrowful eyes of his mother, Mamie Till Bradley (later Till-Mobley), played by Danielle Deadwyler (The Harder They Fall, 2021). 

Deadwyler completely embodies Till Bradley’s staggering grief and anger at the senseless, violent death of her only child. 

Seemingly at the expense of her own mourning, she insists that her son’s disfigured, beaten body be displayed in a transparent glass-topped casket, so the whole world can see the sum of racial hatred.

Her decision, and the graphic images of young Emmett’s disfigured face as published in The Chicago Defender and Jet magazine were a rallying point for the burgeoning civil rights movement. (Aided by the Pullman porters, who risked their health and safety to distribute those publications across the nation.)

Medgar Evers, the first NAACP field officer in Mississippi, played by Tosin Cole (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 2015), encourages Till Bradley to engage with the civil rights movement. 

This support and encouragement help her begin healing, and eventually her pain is eclipsed by her need to act. 

Movie poster for Till. Credit: Orion Pictures

Till tells the story of a brilliant, resilient mother, who does the only thing she can for Emmett and also for herself, embarking on a campaign to expose the rotten underbelly of racial injustice. 

Mamie Till Bradley was a poised, determined woman who helped jump-start the civil rights movement, which marches forward today as Black Lives Matter.  

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