Spike Lee: Do the Right Thing

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James Callahan
COM 2010
Midterm Analysis Revise

Cinematography helps Spike Lee to Do the Right Thing
In Spike Lee’s film Do the Right Thing, we dive head first into a world of racial and social ills. The movie is set in the African American and Puerto Rican neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, on the hottest day of the year. We follow a young man named Mookie, who lives with his sister Jade, and works as a pizza delivery guy for a local pizzeria owed by Sal. Sal’s “Wall of Fame” is soon questioned by a man named Buggin’ Out, who believes that Sal should place some pictures of African American celebrities on his wall to represent the African American society he serves. Sal refuses and Buggn’ Out attempts to protest the “Wall of Fame”, but nobody will help him except Radio Raheem. Later that night, the two men demand that Sal change the pictures on the wall. Radio’s stereo is at its highest volume and Sal yells and destroys Radio’s boom box, which cause a fight to break out. The police arrive at the scene and Buggin' Out is arrested and Radio is killed during the riot. The crowd is enraged about his death, causing the mob to burn his store down. Smiley, the owner of the Korean market, goes back to Sal’s store, and hangs a picture of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. on what's left of Sal's "Wall of Fame.” The film ends with two quotations, the first, from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Violence is never justified under any circumstances.” The second, from Malcolm X: “Violence is not violence, but "intelligence" when it is self-defense.”

When watching the “Can’t stand the heat” scene, we get a better understanding of the weather, the emotions, and the racial hatred which puts such a strain on the neighborhood. We understand what is happening during the scene with Lee’s use of color, angles, sound and the way he portrays certain characters. It helps us become more involved in the movie without us even realizing it. The scene...
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