Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chris McNair, Maxine McNair, Bill Baxley, Alpha Robertson, Wamo Reed Robertson, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Shirley Wesley King, Wyatt Tee Walker, George Wallace, Arthur Hanes Jr., Bill Cosby, Howell Raines, Walter Cronkite
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Spike Lee
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 102
Date: 07/08/1997

4 Little Girls (1997)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Hate Crime

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Spike Lee's first documentary, 4 Little Girls tells the heartbreaking story of how four little girls -- Carol Denise McNair, age 11, and Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Rosamond Robertson, all 14 -- were killed in the September 15, 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Lee uses archival footage, photographs, music, and interviews with parents and survivors to tell the story, which became a major chapter in the Civil Rights movement. Lee's presentation is sober and respectful, but still containing all his usual passion and energy. The movie is an emotional powerhouse, generating regret over what the girls might have grown up to become, as well as rage over the existence of racism. Lee discovered the story in the New York Times magazine and spent more than a decade trying to get the movie made. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary, but lost to The Long Way Home.

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