2023 Update: A Gathering of Old Men Film Review

“A Gathering of Old Men” is a film that centers around a sugarcane plantation in Louisiana during the 1970s. The movie is based on the powerful novel by Ernest J. Gaines.

The story revolves around a group of old black men who stand up against injustice after a local white farmer is found murdered. In the past reviews, the film has been highly praised for its outstanding performances and accurate depiction of race relations in the Deep South during the Civil Rights era.

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Plot Summary

“A Gathering of Old Men” is a film adaptation of the novel with the same title by Ernest J. Gaines. The story revolves around a group of elderly African American men who gather at a Louisiana sugarcane plantation to confront the white farmer who shot one of them.

Each old man claims to be the shooter to protect the true culprit, a young black man who worked for the plantation owner. The film explores themes of racism, injustice, and the power of community solidarity against oppression.

The main characters in the film include the protagonist, Mathu, and supporting characters such as Candy Marshall, Gil, and Lou Dimes.


Ernest J. Gaines’ “A Gathering of Old Men” is a powerful tale of racism, justice, and brotherhood that was adapted into a film in 1987. The film stays true to the novel, with an in-depth analysis of the themes, technical aspects, acting performances, and cultural impact.


The themes of racism, justice, and brotherhood play out prominently in the film. The story takes place in rural Louisiana on a sugarcane plantation, where a group of African American men have gathered to confront a white man who has been shot dead.

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The film explores the deep-rooted racism within the community, the demand for justice, and the struggle for brotherhood among its characters.

Technical Aspects

The film’s cinematography starkly captures the beautiful yet bleak rural Louisiana landscape, which serves as a stark reminder of the passage of time and the struggles faced by the characters. The score and editing styles are also used effectively to evoke intense emotions within the audience, particularly during the climactic scenes.

Acting Performances

The acting performances in the film are exceptional, with a star-studded cast including Lou Gossett Jr., Richard Widmark, and Holly Hunter. The actors portrayed their characters with authenticity and depth, with each one seamlessly blending into the story.

The chemistry between the actors contributed significantly to the film’s success in bringing the story to life.

Cultural Impact

“A Gathering of Old Men” holds significant importance in African American cinema as it highlights the struggle for justice and equality faced by the community. It also paved the way for contemporary films that touch upon similar themes, influencing a new wave of storytelling in American cinema.

Relevance in 2023

In the current socio-political climate, the themes presented in “A Gathering of Old Men” still resonate with audiences today. The film’s message of unity and standing up against racism and oppression is as relevant now as it was in 1987 when the film was released.

With the ongoing fight for racial justice and equal rights, the film is a poignant reminder that progress can only be achieved when people come together and fight for what is right. Furthermore, the film’s exploration of identity and belonging is still relevant today, as people struggle to find their place in a world that often seeks to marginalize them.

“A Gathering of Old Men” serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of community and solidarity in the fight for justice and equality.

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A Gathering of Old Men

Awards and Accolades

“A Gathering of Old Men” is a film adaptation of Ernest J. Gaines’ novel of the same name. The film premiered in 1987 and was directed by Volker Schlöndorff.

Despite its modest beginnings, “A Gathering of Old Men” soon gained critical acclaim and numerous nominations in major award-giving bodies.

The film was nominated for three Emmy Awards in 1988. The nominations included Outstanding Directing in a Miniseries or a Special for Volker Schlöndorff, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special for Richard Widmark, and Outstanding Editing for a Miniseries or a Special for Suzanne Fenn.

However, the film did not receive any Emmy Awards that year.

“A Gathering of Old Men” also received a nomination from the Directors Guild of America Awards in 1988 for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Specials. Volker Schlöndorff was nominated for his direction of the film.

Although it did not receive any major awards, “A Gathering of Old Men” is still considered a highly-acclaimed film. As of 2021, it holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 5 reviews.

Poster of A Gathering of Old Men film

Comparison to the Book

“A Gathering of Old Men” is a powerful novel written by Ernest J. Gaines in 1983. The book is set on a Louisiana sugar plantation in 1970 and is about the plantation’s part-owners.

Although the novel and the film adaptation of the same name share a similar storyline, the differences can be noted.

The film takes creative liberty with its storyline, making significant character changes. The movie focuses on the events that follow after a group of black workers gather in support of their accused brother.

Meanwhile, the book focuses on the character lives on the plantation. The key difference between the book and film is how the portrayal of the characters and their backstories is altered.

The novel provides more historical context for the black workers’ struggles, and their individual stories and struggles are more pronounced, providing a more nuanced reading experience.

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A gathering of old men film

The film adaptation of “A Gathering of Old Men” has its own strengths, but the novel presents an entirely different experience with its unique content structure and rich historical details.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where was the film 'A Gathering of Old Men' shot?

The film was shot on location in Louisiana.

What year was 'A Gathering of Old Men' released?

The film was released in 1987.

Is 'A Gathering of Old Men' based on a book?

Yes, it is based on the 1983 novel by Ernest J. Gaines.

What is the plot of 'A Gathering of Old Men'?

The film follows a group of elderly Black men who band together to take responsibility for the murder of a white man on a Louisiana plantation.

Who starred in 'A Gathering of Old Men'?

The film starred Louis Gossett Jr., Richard Widmark, and Holly Hunter.


“A Gathering of Old Men” is a significant cinematic masterpiece that explores complex themes surrounding race, identity, and social change. Set on a Louisiana plantation in the 1970s, the film follows a group of elderly African American men who gather together to confront their white oppressors.

Based on a novel by Ernest J. Gaines, the film offers a stark portrayal of the struggles faced by Black communities in the American South.

The impact of “A Gathering of Old Men” has been felt not just in the world of cinema, but in society at large. The film has shed light on important issues related to race and power dynamics, and has provoked important conversations about the legacy of slavery and oppression in America.

Overall, “A Gathering of Old Men” stands as a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.


Jonathan B. Delfs

I love to write about men's lifestyle and fashion. Unique tips and inspiration for daily outfits and other occasions are what we like to give you at MensVenture.com. Do you have any notes or feedback, please write to me directly: [email protected]

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