A Time to Kill
is a war." Carl Lee Haley (Samuel L. Jackson's character) believes
this to be true. And most of us see two sides to many issues: Black and
white, rich and poor, democrat and republican. There's a code in our country,
an unwritten but very powerful understanding that power is a material possession,
which is distributed unequally. What is our expectation for and of justice?
Is justice blind, as our forefathers hoped it would be? In A Time to Kill,
Carl Lee's defense attorney must attain and maintain the courage to challenge
the racism of the jury and to see justice through to the end of the trial.
Was Carl Lee's killing of the two white men who raped and savagely accosted
his daughter justified? Did he take justice out of the hands of the people
and place it in his own? As his lawyer requests Carl Lee to "cop a
plea", the defendant begs his counsel to stand up for what's right.
Make the jury understand what it's like to be a black man attempting to
receive a fair trial in the South. Make the jury understand how they would
feel if the the victim in this case was white. Although the film- makers
use the stereotypical setting of a jail cell for a black prisoner, making
him unusually sweaty in the process, the message is quite clear. We've come
a long way in terms of justice for all; but we have an equally long way
To Courage: The Film Intertext