Monday, November 19, 2012

ESPN Films 30 for 30: The Ghost of Ole Miss

I watched the Ghosts of Ole Miss. This is the fifth installment of ESPN's 30 for 30 Vol II. An episode guide for Vol II is here.

Over the last few years, I watched over forty 30 for 30 and ESPN Films documentaries. This is the first time I have ever said "wow." When the governor of Mississippi is giving a televised speech towards the beginning of the film, I actually said "wow" out loud.

The Ghost of Ole Miss was based on an article titled the Ghosts of Mississippi by Wright Thompson. The film explores the fall of 1962 when black student James Meredith enrolled in the University of Mississippi under the order and protection of the federal government. At the same time, the Ole Miss football team was in the midst of its only perfect season in school history.

The first half of the film focuses on the events surrounding James Meredith's attempts to enroll in the school. John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Dan Rather and Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett figure prominently. There is a lot of great old footage as the events unfold, including film of a young Dan Rather reporting from the campus. Interviews with some of the football players who were involved are included. It was chilling to hear the events described as the last battle of the Civil War.

The second half of the film weaves in the story of the football team. The team was attempting to win the national championship.

I started watching the film with few expectations. I was drawn in by the old footage in the first half of the story; it is extremely compelling. This is definitely of the 30 for 30s worth looking for. I am going to watch it again and get Sharon to watch the first half with me.

Ghosts of Ole Miss is available on iTunes.

A trailer for the film is here.

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