Do the Right Thing was released in May 1989 in Cannes. Spike Lee directed, produced and wrote the screenplay for the film. It tackles the subject of race relations by depicting the ethnic communities of the Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, where Spike Lee grew up. Spike Lee plays the role of the main character Mookie, who works at Sal's pizzeria and has a son with Tina. Although Lee wanted Robert De Niro, the role of Sal went to Danny Aiello. Do the Right Thing is a family and friends affair: he hired his girlfriend Rosie Perez (Tina), his sister Joie Lee (Jade), and his father Bill Lee, a jazz musician, who composed the film music. He also kept most of the actors from his previous film School Daze . He wrote the role of Smiley, a man with a mental handicap, for Roger G. Smith who absolutely wanted to star in the film. Spike Lee was nominated for Best Writing at the 1990 Academy Awards for this movie.
[...] Three years after Do the Right Thing, Spike Lee directed Malcolm X (1992), starring Denzel Washington in the role of the Black Nationalist. Malcolm X was much more violent in his words than Martin Luther King. While the leader of the American civil rights movement was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as a peacemaker, promoting non-violence and equal treatment for different races, Malcolm X declared that non-violence was philosophy of the fool.” In Spike Lee's biopic, we see him rejecting a white woman who wants to join his movement. [...]
[...] One of the main themes of Do the Right Things with its manifold characters and their failure of communication is the clash of communities. The film is populated with many different characters each one a representative of a certain belief or state of mind - on different sides of the conflict. On the one side there is the uninhibited anger of Buggin Out and Radio Raheem. On the other side, there is Pino who “detests this place like a sickness”. [...]
[...] Even though the Civil Rights movement had successful legislative results with the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a Black power movement was created with the foundation of the Black Panther Party in 1966, whose aim was to reassert Black pride. Many references to the African Americans' civil rights movement can be found in Do the Right Thing. For example, Mookie wears a shirt of Jackie Robinson, a Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team player. This actually refers to a key moment in the integration of sports in the United States, as Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play on a Major League baseball team on April The pizzeria boycott was also inspired by the Howard Beach incident of 1986. [...]
[...] The main issue and mystery of the film is its title, coming from Da Mayor: “Always do the right thing.” During the final riot, everyone wonders whether Mookie actually did the right thing by throwing the garbage can through the window of Sal's Famous Pizzeria and yelling Unlike Buggin' Out, Mookie is no troublemaker. He seemed to be a plain man, willing to earn some money without any fuss. Even though Radio Raheem has just been killed in front of him, Sal is not the murderer: so why does Mookie turn against his boss? [...]
[...] Although Do the Right Thing is a cult film, it is also a flawed, youthful work. Spike Lee should have spent more than two weeks to write his script. Until the final clash, the story lacks an overall coherence, the different sketches are very witty and well-led but the general construction is blurred and we are sometimes bored by dialogs without any impact on the plot. Concerning the cast, Mookie and Tina are far from perfection. Spike Lee looks like a sixteen year old delivery boy when he is actually in his thirties and a father. [...]
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