Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
Do the Right Thing
It's the hottest day of the summer. You can do nothing, you can do something, or you can...
On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.
Director: Spike Lee (First Film)
Do the Right Thing feels entirely like a rough sketch of thoughts. Thoughts of anger, and compassion and understanding, of confusion and thoughts of course, of love and hate. It's as if Spike Lee had a vision and it was perfectly set out in his head, and he put it into film exactly as his thoughts dictated.
As the quotes from Martin Luthor King jr and then Malcolm X neatly placed in the end credits, there is a lot of contradicting points within the film, and thus there is no clear indication to what Spike Lee wants us to feel, to think and in doing so, this outright fairly portrayed reality entirely means…
Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.
That is the tail end of a Martin Luther King quote used before the end credits in Do The Right Thing. Now, if this film would've just ended with that full quote and then proceeded with the credits, I think one would come away with a very different opinion of this film. It kind of puts what you just saw into perspective and offers a strong voice to compliment the film.
But it doesn't.
Spike Lee turns around and shows another quote right after that. A Malcolm X quote stating that violence is intelligent when used in self defense. This makes things a little…
In 1989 there were three films about race.
Of those three, two focused more on relationships between whites and blacks.
Those two films were Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing and Bruce Beresford's Driving Miss Daisy.
Both films were nominated for oscars.
Do the Right Thing was nominated for only two awards, and lost them both.
Miss Daisy was nominated for nine awards, winning four including Best Picture.
This just shows the academy voters' preferance for sticky and sentimental films rather for real and hard hitting films.
For me, Driving Miss Daisy is one of the most annoying and horrible films I have ever seen.
Even Spike Lee agrees, saying "because 20 years later, who’s watching Driving Miss Daisy?"
This may be a bit of hyperbole, but I cannot think of an opening credit sequence that better announces a new voice in cinema than the opening of Do the Right Thing. Rosie Perez’s in-your-face dancing while Public Enemy’s ‘Fight the Power’ blasts the soundtrack, is aggressive, sexy, confrontational, and totally of its time. It is unavoidable and urgent.
Urgent. If there is a single word that describes this film, I can’t think of a better one than “urgent”. It has the feeling of a movie that had to be made. There are some films (Star Wars comes to mind) that if they weren’t made ,when they were made, then someone else would have made them, and probably pretty close…
The complicated ideas that Lee tossed around in his first two films - some hitting the mark, others not so much - are fine tuned in what the man himself calls "the moment I became a director". It would be a mistake to view this as an angry film raging from within the black community toward the world as Lee is too astute to fall into that trap. Instead he presents an emotionally complicated insight into the melting pot of modern urban life.
A fierce opening sequence introduces us to the miniature powerhouse that is Rosie Perez bugging out to Public Enemy (which replaced this original choice). It has dated particularly…
I have lived in Birmingham, Alabama for the past three years. Clearly racial issues aren't the same they were 24 years ago, but you can still feel the pain and suffering that caused so much harm throughout the previous century. My dad used to work right by the 16th St. Baptist Church, where four little girls (and many other people disfigured and injured) by a nail bomb that members of the KKK had planted. I got an melancholic, sickening feeling every time we would pass by. As if that violence, the sins people committed, will always loom over this city in one way or another.
However, racism is still a prevalent issue in the South, one that goes in many…
Something just didn't seem to work but that may have been because I was sleeping a bit or because I don't fully understand the racial tensions because I do not live in America
Tragically, more relevant than ever.
The worst case of false advertising since The Neverending Story.
"This is a student analysis for Syracuse University and not a review)
“Always do the right thing.”
Those immortal words, spoken by Da Mayor, are at the center of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. However, what does it mean to “do the right thing”? The film doesn’t give a clear answer; rather, Lee forces the viewer to come to their own conclusion, and in doing so confront the precarious issue of race in America. Whatever answer we come up with, reflects our own prejudices, beliefs, experiences, and emotional baggage that we bring to the picture.
When Mookie throws the trash can through Sal’s Pizzeria’s window, he sparks a debate that will follow the film for the next twenty-five years.…
Ah man, what a blast of creative, political, righteous energy. Love it.
Perhaps the greatest film about racism ever made, “Do the Right Thing” is most notable because it refuses to takes sides. The differing philosophies of Civil Rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr. (non-violence and civil disobedience) and Malcolm X (radicalism and, if necessary, violent means) are presented in equal light, resulting in a morally ambiguous climax that forces the audience to confront its own views on the extremely divisive issue of racial politics in the United States. For young viewers, the film adds a new depth to the social and political implications of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and demonstrates that while MLK and Malcolm X may have “won,” the fight is still far from over.
Spike Lee's greatest film ever! If you aren't a fan of Lee's work, you probably haven't seen this movie. It's brilliant, takes place in one day, fiercely investigates race relations, and it just overall is a great story about human nature. I highly recommend it.
Now THAT is how you make a film. Wow. I really don't have any words.
Aside from from its much acknowledged value in provoking thought about race relations, and a slew of fine performances, DO THE RIGHT THING is a beautiful movie with gorgeous color design, lighting, cinematography, and visual composition. Plus a great soundtrack and score (even the parts that don't stand out).
So, kudos to:
Cinematographer Ernest R. Dickerson
Production Designer Wynn Thomas
Set Decorator Steve Rosse
Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter
Composer Bill Lee
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