Till: What To Know About The Movie Before You Watch

Jalyn Hall and Danielle Deadwyler as Emmett and Mamie Till in Till
(Image credit: Orion Pictures)

Of the many fall movies out this season, we’d imagine a historical drama about Emmett Till isn’t the first on one’s list, but if you go out of your way to check it out, you’re unlikely to be disappointed. Till is among the most praised movies, for critics and audiences alike, of the year, for many good reasons. (Check out our Till review). It not only tells the story of Emmett Till’s murder, but about the subsequent trial and its place in the Civil Rights Movement, all through the eyes of his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley. 

Before you watch the movie, you may have a few questions. Here’s what you need to know before seeing Till, from someone who has seen it and highly recommends it. 

The Mother Of Emmett Till Is The Most Central To Till’s Story

The specific angle Till takes to telling its story is key to why it works. Rather than simply following Emmett Till, who was abducted, tortured, and lynched while visiting family in Mississippi in 1955, the movie follows his mother’s story. Mamie’s reaction to the tragedy is one that leads to hope and inspiration. Till is about much more than a telling of a senseless murder in history. It’s a love letter to Mamie and the power of motherhood in a lot of ways. It begins and ends with joy between the mom and son, and the two stars were able to find this on set, as well.

Till Is Just Over Two Hours Long 

Till’s runtime is two hours and ten minutes long. The movie uses an in depth approach to telling the historical event. It takes audiences through what happened to Emmett Till, how it got into the news, his funeral, the Mississippi trial and Mamie Till-Mobley’s rise into an activist. 

Till Is Rated PG-13 For Use Of Strong Disturbing Images And Racial Slurs 

The movie received a PG-13 rating from the MPAA for “thematic content involving racism, strong disturbing images and racial slurs.” It should be noted that this is not a  gruesome film. The movie tastefully chose not to show the specific violence that happened to Emmett Till, it is only suggested, with only the order of the events around the murder being shown. The movie does recreate the horrible image of what he looked like after his death to showcase the brutality of the crime, just like the powerful photograph of his body did at the time when it was circulated across newspapers for the same reason. 

It’s Based On Nearly 30 Years Of Research By Its Writer

What strengthens the film is that the script was created by Keith Beauchamp, who did 27 years of research on the case, which also heavily involved the boy's family, including Mamie Till-Mobley. In 2005, a documentary under his direction called The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till was released. Beauchamp’s research led to the reopening of the case by the United States Department of Justice in 2004, despite no additional arrests being made. The movie is the result of a kickstarter campaign, which caught Whoopi Goldberg’s attention, and that of Orion Pictures, following the 2020 events that led to increased notice of the Black Lives Matter Movement

The Movie Comes Just Months After The Emmett Till Antilynching Act Became Law 

While this story may seem like something engraved in our past, America is still very much wrestling with the issues that come up in Till. In March 2022, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act was signed into federal law by President Joe Biden, making lynching a federal hate crime. It was named after Till, but had been discussed by the U.S. government for over a hundred years. 

How To Watch Till 

Till is currently playing only in theaters. We’ll update you as the movie becomes available on VOD and streaming, and continue to keep you updated on what to know about more 2022 movie releases here on CinemaBlend.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.