It has officially been 32 years since the classic film Do The Right Thing played on big screens at movie theaters all across America and it is still culturally relevant in our present day. Released in 1989, the film was written by actor and director Spike Lee who is primarily known in the industry for his contentious films that touch upon racial injustice, violence, and politics. The movie focuses on the lives of ethnically diverse people who live in a lower-class neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. Today, the film can be streamed on various platforms such as Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and Peacock services.
The movie begins in an urban neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, and brings the audience along for the duration of the day. Almost immediately, the audience is made to feel a sense of community as the characters naturally interact with each other despite how ethnically diverse things are in the area. Viewers get a first-hand depiction of how the Italian community socially integrates with the predominantly African-American community and the tension that arises from cultural differences between the two groups. This tension highlights how racial discrimination, social injustice, and police brutality impact different characters based on their racial backgrounds. Over three decades later, these are the same issues that are still being tirelessly addressed within American society. Taking initiative and creating a platform to address these issues, especially back then is essentially what brought Lee to prominence as a director and filmmaker.
Throughout the film, Lee uses a method of taking stereotypical occurrences to ultimately bring up unconventional topics that society typically shies away from. This method added to the controversy upon its release. The audience is continuously encouraged to think about the events that take place from the lens of different racially oppressed groups in the community. “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy also served as the main soundtrack on the film and its overall mantra due to its social and political lyrics.
With the production and cinematography aspects of the film, the setting invokes response and involvement from the audience. The film was shot in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Naturally, this added to the legitimacy of the scenes. The Italian pizza shop and Korean grocery store that are featured in the movie were built from scratch on two empty lots; both were fully functional by the time filming began. The film starts off with a heatwave, giving the filmmakers the ability to use heavy amounts of saturated oranges and reds. These color choices emphasize that it was very hot. Lee and his production team also included dramatic camera angles, such as filming characters from low ground levels or zooming in on their faces, which is a common filming style used by the director.
Do the Right Thing is a debatable film that allows the viewers to contemplate the desired message and its relevance to the world. The film courageously touched upon violence, racial injustice, and politics and because of that, it is still able to exist in these important conversations today. It is considered a classic with powerful and relatable concepts that prove to still be incredibly relevant.