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DO THE RIGHT THING
1989 - Spike Lee
United States
91
Opening Shot

After a highly stylish and mood setting title sequence using Public Enemy's 'Fight the Power' giving the look and feel of an old Hollywood musical while capturing the tone and atmosphere of the film (heightened by the emotions of the song), the film begins with a closeup of an alarm clock ringing into a microphone, "Wake up, wake up wake up" yells Mister Senor Love Daddy of We-Love Radio 108 FM. The shot closes fades out from the closeup and out through the window towards the streets of Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn, the setting of the film.

The Film

Do The Right Thing is the most honest, unflinching, fare look at racism and racial violence I have ever seen in film. It's also a colorful and beautiful look into the souls of humanity. Do The Right Thing deals with ordinary, flawed individuals doing their best at dealing with situations they have grown into. In the end the film leaves hope, without falling into the cliches of a simple conclusion or happy ending. The cinematography is beautiful to look at, specifically the colors of the film. The films final quotes from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr offer different views about racism and violence, summarizing a films that asks what is the "right thing", without giving a clear answer. Ultimately there really is no "correct" answer no matter what the philosophy and it is here that Do the Right Thing emerges as a hopeful film. Did Mookie do the right thing, or more importantly did others do the right thing? Perhaps by throwing the trashcan Mookie not only broke the window, but he broke through the repressed racism within everyone and allowed them to face and fix the conflict (which ultimately arose at the death of a human being- Radio Raheem). Even for it's honest, unflinching portrayal of human behavior, I believe this is a deeply caring and compassionate film of humanity. It's also film full of life, energy, and above all hope! Do The Right is an absolute work of art that challenges and absorbs the viewer both emotionally and visually through it's powerful images. Really, I can't properly describe how brilliant this film is as words or descriptions are no justice. Do the Right Thing is a film experience to be cherished, remembered, and respected. It's a film that has greatly effected my perspective of life and of cinema. Spike Lee has made one of the finest works of art I've seen on film. This is a wonderful film that should be considered an American classic over time. "I got it, I'm gone!"

The Filmmaker

A controversial and to me greatly misunderstood filmmaker, Spike Lee is perhaps American cinema's most well-known African American filmmaker today (and maybe only surpassed by Charles Burnett as the greatest). His incredible talent, independent vision, and opinionated feelings and thoughts have also made him one of the most controversial and criticized. However it is this vision that has not only paved the way for young emerging independent filmmakers, but greatly opened doors for a future for African American filmmakers. Hollywood remains way behind where it should be as 100% of the power and decision-making people are white, but there have been small strides toward diversity, and Lee is one of the key figures of the improvement. No matter what type of film he is making, Lee's films are well known for their challenging political and racial views as well as a New York-based setting. Lee has also been critical of African American lifestyle, most notably current day "gangster rap" and the message it breeds to youth. Because of the controversy that surrounds him, Lee is often forgotten for his humor, his compassionate humanity, his vast intelligence, and above all his wonderful gifts as a filmmaker. He strives to find the truth within all of humanity. His 1989 film Do the Right Thing is in my opionion one of the absolute greatest films ever made in the history of American film and we can all benefit from and feel privileged to embrace the film as a masterpiece.

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Resources
trailer (youtube)      
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