A Close Analysis of Spike Lee’s He Got Game
Claimed as Spike Lee best work since Malcolm X, He Got Game is a film about the relationship between a father and his son. In this film the father, Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel Washington), is serving time in prison for murdering his wife. His son, Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen), is the nation's top high school basketball prospect. The governor, being an avid basketball fan, has made a deal with Jake that will cut back his sentence if he can convince his son to go to the governor's alma mater, Big State University. Jake agrees, but much difficulty lies in dealing with a son who still hasn't forgiven him for taking his mother's life. It is around this difficulty that the plot is built. In this film Spike Lee uses different techniques of cinematography such camera angles, mise-en-scene, editing, and sound to enhance the feud between father and son. He gives us insight into their feelings and motivations, he compares their personalities and attitudes, and he illustrates the dissonance between the two men through the use of these techniques. In Jesus and Jake's first meeting on the ball court, Lee makes use distance and space to increase the sense of separation between them. Empty space here is exaggerated through the use of a wide-angle lens. Jake is seen here in the foreground with Booger, Jesus’ cousin and Jesus in the background. If you watch closely, all three men keep a healthy distance apart. When Jake approaches Booger to give him love, Booger backs away and leaves the court, reacting to the violation of the space that the director has created between these characters. If that is the first thing you see of this movie; you feel a sense of fear and separation, like something is about to happen. This distance between Jake and Jesus is kept throughout the scene as they walk parallel paths across the court to the fence. When they get to the fence, the director purposely breaks the 180 degree rule by having close-ups...
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