Watch Heavens Fall
- 1 min
Heavens Fall is a compelling legal drama based on the infamous Scottsboro Boys case, a real-life legal battle that took place in the 1930s in Alabama. The film explores the racial tensions and injustices prevalent in the South during that time period and the legal system's flawed mechanisms. The film begins with events leading up to the alleged rape of two white women aboard a train by a group of nine African American men who were hoboing their way to Memphis. In no time, the Alabama authorities nabbed them and charged them with rape, a crime punishable by death in Alabama in those days.
The Scottsboro Boys trial represented the ugliest aspects of Jim Crow justice, where the scales of justice were heavily weighted against African Americans. The legal system was corrupt, and the defendants did not stand a chance in a courtroom filled with a hostile mob demanding instant justice.
The trial itself was rife with legal violations, from the inadequate representation to the all-white jury and a lynch mob outside the courtroom that threatened the witnesses. Thomas Knight (Timothy Hutton) is an idealistic young lawyer assigned to defend the accused. He goes against the pressure and taboo of the town as well as his own law firm to fight for his clients' rights.
Ozie Powell (Mike Pniewski) and Leibowitz's arguments are effective, but the fear of the mob forces the judge to call for a mistrial. Heavens Fall takes the audience through the many stages of the trials, from pre-trial pleadings to the final verdict. With each passing hearing, the case becomes more complex while the stakes get progressively higher. Peter Bradford (David Strathairn), a famed civil rights lawyer, is brought in to save the day. He reads the witness statements, including signatures that were clearly from someone else, chipping away at the prosecution's story.
During the course of the trial, we see the tensions that arise from defense attorney Samuel Leibowitz (Ken Duken), a New Yorker with a briefcase and the mentality that racism could be conquered through logical argument, colliding with the hostility and resistance of the Deep South.
As the case proceeds, it becomes evident that the white women accusing the black men of rape have some dubious motives of their own that may affect the outcome of the trial. Victoria Price (Leelee Sobieski) and Ruby Bates (Azura Skye) were incongruous, drunk, and desperate for attention. As the nine boys await their fate, the viewer is taken on a journey through pre-civil rights South, where lynching and violence were commonplace, and the lives of black people were deemed worth very little.
The performances of all of the actors, including Timothy Hutton, David Strathairn, and Leelee Sobieski, are vivid and engaging. The courtroom scenes are tense and atmospheric, and the tension genuinely carries over to the viewer.
Overall, Heavens Fall offers a powerful and thought-provoking look at the issues around the Scottsboro Boys case, making an important comment on racial tensions and the abuse of justice in the United States during that time. The movie stands out as an excellent courtroom drama that harkens back to a crucial moment in America's civil rights history.