The June 1964 brutal murder of Civil Rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney (one Black and two White) in Mississippi was one of the most celebrated atrocities in the atrocity-filled decade of the 60s. Alan Parker’s Mississippi Burning follows a pair of FBI agents -- Alan Ward (Willem Dafoe) and Rupert Anderson (Gene Hackman) -- assigned to the case. The workers had come to Mississippi as part of the Mississippi Summer Project, a program that would bring hundreds of college-age volunteers to register Blacks to vote. Their disappearance ignites racial unrest and turmoil and is the driving force of the story. Agent Ward plays by the rules and follows protocol, while Agent Anderson acts on instinct and uses his physical power to dominate others. The two are an unlikely pair, attempting to work together in an extremely hostile and racially divided environment. The struggle they personally encounter in their problematical relationship is paralleled by the obstacles they face from the Jessup County police department and the Ku Klux Klan. The Blacks in the town also create difficulty, because they live in constant fear of White retaliation and are at most times too afraid to come forward and accuse anyone. Soon enough, the two agents learn how to accept each others’ methods when it comes to the investigation, and they successfully convict those responsible for the tragedy.