Taking place on the hottest day of the year in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989) artfully depicts, with equal parts frankness and fondness, the black experience in urban America. An ensemble comprised primarily of then-unknowns, including Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson, Martin Lawrence, Rosie Perez, John Turturro, and Lee himself, not only accentuates the you-are-there aesthetic of the film's most incendiary moments, but also humanizes the panoply of neighborhood characters, each of whom is essential to the film's engagement with matters of representation, authenticity, and methods of resistance. While this subject matter is a key ingredient of Lee's authorship, so are the film's bold aesthetics, like the inspired and aggressive direct-to-camera monologues.
But for all of Lee's innovation and experimentation, Do the Right Thing is also influenced by the American cinematic tradition, to which the writer-director-producer-actor was undoubtedly exposed during his time at NYU. This lineage is evident in his casting of Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee in small but pivotal roles, and in the homage to Night of the Hunter (1955) found in Radio Raheem's memorable monologue, which hints at the constant oscillation between love and hate at the film’s heart.
Join us to learn about and from the film of which Roger Ebert wrote: "Spike Lee [did] an almost impossible thing. [He] made a movie about race in America that empathized with all the participants. He didn't draw lines or take sides but simply looked with sadness at one racial flashpoint that stood for many others."
Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.