Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing is
inarguably one of the greatest American films ever made, despite the
fact that both the Oscars and the American Film Institute's Top 100 list
The story is set on the hottest day of the year in the
Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy neighborhood. Following several key characters
throughout the day, the film allows little pockets of emotional pressure
to boil slowly until the final explosive climax in which the cops
strangle Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) in front of Sal's Famous Pizzeria.
despite its fearless look at racial tensions, the film moves at a
relaxed and humorous pace. It understands that slowly building tensions
are much more affecting than sudden detonations, and it occasionally
releases through humor and warmth. Cinematographer Ernest Dickerson
brings an overpowering red-orange heat-haze to the film, elevating the
frazzled emotions, but also decorates the picture with sporadic candy
colored delights (such as the flavored shave-ice cart).
draws outstanding performances from his cast: Danny Aiello (as Sal, the
Pizzeria owner), Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Giancarlo Esposito, Bill Nunn,
John Turturro, Richard Edson, his sister Joie Lee and Rosie Perez (in
her film debut), as well as Roger Guenveur Smith and Samuel L. Jackson.
Lee himself plays the central role of Mookie, the shiftless pizza
deliveryman who throws a garbage can through Sal's Pizzeria window in
response to Radio Raheem's death.
The Criterion Collection perfectly captures this powerful film on its
new DVD. The rich, crisp colors shine in a clean, letterboxed picture.
Criterion could have rested with the film alone, but this DVD contains a
mountain of extras (it comes on two discs). Best of all is a commentary
track by Lee, Dickerson, production designer Wynn Thomas, and Joie Lee;
and a one-hour "Making of" documentary shot during production.
package also includes close to an hour of video footage capturing
rehearsals, auditions, and discussions, a recent interview with editor
Barry Brown, storyboards, trailers, a music video for the movie's mighty
anthem, Public Enemy's "Fight the Power," and new video introductions by
Lee. Some of this material was assembled for Criterion's 1995 laserdisc
package, but this new DVD eclipses that former release.
Though none of his other films have Do the Right Thing's perfect
balance of audacity and control -- his films either spill over with anger
(Jungle Fever, Bamboozled) or suffer under too rigid a structure
(Mo' Better Blues, Malcolm X) -- Lee still continues to fascinate.
Each and every Lee movie contains his signature style, and they will
always be major movie events.
Buy DVD/Blu-ray Combo
Criterion Collection DVD
With: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson, Giancarlo Esposito, Spike Lee, Bill Nunn, John Turturro, Frankie Faison, John Savage, Rosie Perez, Joie Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Roger Guenveur Smith, Martin Lawrence
Written by: Spike Lee
Directed by: Spike Lee
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 120 minutes
Date: February 23, 2001