TITLE: "Do the Right Thing"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1989
DIRECTOR: Spike Lee
STARS: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Spike Lee
EDITOR: Barry Alexander Brown
AWARDS: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Aiello, Oscar, Nomination), Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Oscar, Nomination)
BOX OFFICE: $27,545,445 (USA)
RUN TIME: 120 min.
VIEWING FORMAT: DVD
On one of the hottest days in recent memory, a small neighborhood in Brooklyn is pushed, challenged, and torn apart as racial tensions, bigotry, and misunderstandings escalate into violence.
WHY THIS IS THE FILM OF THE WEEK:
Lee's "Do the Right Thing" is considered a classic of the modern era of filmmaking. Its strong themes, fair treatment, and incredible writing, have kept it at the forefront of modern popular culture.
This film deals bluntly with bigotry of all types in a small cross-section of Brooklyn. Racism, bigotry, love, hate, family dichotomy, friendship, and loyalty are all given a fair shake by Lee. The neighborhood of focus is comprised of mostly African-Americans. It is apparent there is some racial tension with the Italian-American owners of Sal's Famous Pizzeria. While Sal tends to try to diffuse the racial tension, he is easily upset by the youth that visit his shop. His oldest son, Pino, is overtly racist, while his younger son seems to be accepting of anyone. The rest of the community has their own troubles, either between youth and the elderly, matriarchs and drunkards, racism towards the Asian shop-owners in town, and a general fear of power hungry police.
This is one of only 5 films to be entered into the National Film Registry in its first year of eligibility (the others being: "Raging Bull" (1980), "Goodfellas" (1990), "Toy Story" (1995), and "Fargo" (1996)). Its themes of cultural unrest, honestly portray a segment of American history, while also staying resonant in modern culture.
The reason this film stands out against so many that try to tackle these hard issues, is because it gives a fair position to most viewpoints. It ends with two quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcom X. These quotes show different viewpoints of the same actions, both trying to accomplish the same goals. That is this film. Many different people are trying to accomplish the same things, showing love and caring to those they hold dear, and they find different ways to do so.
Unlike many racial dramas, this one also leaves much of itself open to interpretation. Did Mookie (played by Lee) actually do the right thing? Who was at fault for the escalating violence at the end of the film? Is it personal problems that lead to the violence, or longstanding stereotypes? Almost all of the film's conclusions are up to the viewer to interpret themselves. That is where its power lies. After watching this film, time to contemplate, dialogue, and think are necessary. This writer highly recommends this film, and considers it one of the most important films ever made. It can be hard to get through, but its beautiful cinematography, direction, performances, and wonderful writing, all help this film to glide by in a very entertaining fashion.
MY IMDb RATING: 9 out of 10