Award-winning filmmaker Tom Thurman was at the Overby Center on Wednesday, February 26 for a screening of his documentary “Robert Penn Warren: A Vision.” Thurman, who has produced and directed 36 documentaries on art, film, music, sports and literary figures, discussed his work with Joe Atkins, a professor in the university’s School of Journalism and New Media.
Thurman’s documentary offers a compelling insight into the life of the acclaimed writer, whose novel “All the King’s Men” is considered one of the great dissections of Southern politics. The idea for the project stemmed from Thurman’s re-reading of the novel, which features the fictional character Willie Stark, a populist southern governor modeled after the Louisiana governor Huey Long.
“The sheer force of the novel’s language prompted me more than anything else,” Thurman said. “And given today’s current political climate, it struck me that ‘All the King’s Men’ has gained relevance with time. Digging deeper into Warren’s total body of work, one additional book emerged that really captured my imagination: ‘Segregation: The Inner Conflict in the South.’ Given that many of his interviews for this book were conducted with Civil Rights activists in Mississippi in 1955-1956, it seems very appropriate for me to screen my documentary on the campus of the University of Mississippi.”
Thurman opined that Warren would have a lot to say and write about the current state of politics. He said that Warren would certainly be disturbed by the attack on the democratic process. He jokingly added that Warren is probably planning a resurrection to pick up his pen and write again because there’s so much to write about.