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Do the Right Thing

 

Year: 1989 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Spike Lee 
Starring: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee  
An image from Do the Right Thing
Review:

Often listed among the greatest films of all time, this film was written, produced, and directed by Spike Lee. (He also stars.) The district of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn is experiencing one hell of a scorcher… Sal (Danny Aiello – Godfather: Part II, Leon) has been running his own pizzeria for 25 years. The neighbourhood may have changed from Italian-Americans to African-Americans in that time, but he still feels part of, and is proud to serve, his local community. It's a shame his eldest doesn’t feel the same way…

Spike Lee stars as Mookie, a young father delivering pizzas for Sal, and somewhat lacking in ambition. His best friend and activist Buggin’ Out (Giancarlo Esposito – Malcolm X, Usual Suspects), asks a simple enough question – why does Sal’s wall only have pictures of Italians, not African-Americans? The heatwave intensifies the simmering racial tensions, and it’s not long before frustration leads to protests, vandalization, arson and bloodshed…

Though made relatively early in Spike Lee’s career, his prowess with a camera is obvious. Lee expertly ratchets up the tension, building and releasing, but always leaving it higher than before. Much of the humour is derived from accuracy and portrayal of real life, and Lee manages to never lose the audience’s sympathies with the characters, despite their actions, and the consequences.

Gail Marshall

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Screenings of this film:

2018/2019 Autumn Term (digital)