Film Review: Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?

Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? ultimately takes on the rhythmic structure of the protest music that Wilkerson invokes throughout the film: Black-and-white montages set to Janelle Monáe’s “Hell You Talmbout” recur like a refrain, inviting viewers to speak the names of victims of racially motivated violence. Phil Ochs’s plangent “William Moore” introduces a lengthy aside about the 1963 murder of the eponymous protest marcher on the roadside in Attalla, Alabama. Then there’s a truly surreal sequence, almost worthy of David Lynch himself, where the camera focuses on a grove of cottonwood trees, while Billie Holliday sings an eerie backwards-masked rendition of “Strange Fruit” in a tiny square in the center of the frame. Such experimental flourishes might not do a whole lot to deepen or broaden our understanding of the fraught issues at hand, but they work quite nicely when it comes to keeping viewers unsettled.

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