Thursday, October 19, 2023

The Burial: From the Pages of the New Yorker to Amazon Prime Video

The Film, The Burial

Amazon Prime Video's #1 streaming movie in the US right now is The Burial, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Jamie Foxx. It's a 2+hr feature film categorized as drama and comedy coming out of Amazon Studios as an original, and it has a 90% on the Tomatometer. The promotional materials describe it as "inspired by true events." The website History vs. Hollywood published a post devoted to comparing the real people with the actors cast to play them.


When Amazon Studios says "inspired by true events," they mean "adapted from a long-form journalism piece published in the New Yorker at the end of the last millennium." This is because, as we found out last week, the November 1, 1999 issue of the New Yorker ran a 26-page article by Jonathan Harr in the recurring Reporter at Large section that told this very story, under the same name, on pages 70-95.

A Reporter at Large: The Burial by Jonathan Harr

Screen capture of the title of the article in the New Yorker.
Winning multimillion-dollar verdicts had become easy for Willie Gary, and he began to want something bigger. Then he met a man with a complaint against a funeral-home empire

This is where the SFPL Magazines and Newspaper Center comes in. If you're hankering to read the original piece published in the New Yorker, we have a backfile of the publication covering the time period including 1999. 

Get the Original Article

To find out about SFPL's access to the New Yorker yourself, you can easily pop the title of the publication—the New Yorker—into our Periodical Finder tool. Looking at results #2 and #3, you will see none of the electronic access from our database subscriptions goes back to 1999, so it is not possible to get a copy of the article as a PDF immediately. However, result #1 will direct you to a link called SFPL Print Collection, which opens to a record from the SFPL classic catalog. We learn from this record that the Magazines and Newspapers Center has 1999 in both paper format and on microfilm. 

As Robert Frost would say, at this point two roads diverged in a wood: shall we travel the road of microfilm, or paper? 

One could make the decision to pull the microfilm roll from the cabinets in the Magazines and Newspapers reference room, and use the microfilm scanners to create a PDF of the pages. On the other hand, one could request the Nov. 1, 1999 issue of the New Yorker at the 5th floor Page Desk, with which one could use the copy machine to scan the pages and create a PDF. Both are free options.

Screen capture of the first two pages of the article on microfilm.

Photograph of the first two pages of the article from the paper copy.

Your Choice

Which would you have chosen? Microfilm or bound in print? Or a secret third thing?

Come visit us on the 5th floor of the Main Library if you're interested in reading the source of this popular new movie and we can help you get the article in whichever format you prefer.

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