This classic Spike Lee film from 1989 is as relevant today as it was when it was made. The film tells the story of a neighborhood in New York on the hottest day of the year where everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence. Salvatore "Sal" Fragione (Danny Aiello) is the Italian owner of a pizzeria in Brooklyn. A neighborhood local, Buggin' Out (Giancarlo Esposito), becomes upset when he sees that the pizzeria's Wall of Fame exhibits only Italian actors. Buggin' Out believes a pizzeria in a black neighborhood should showcase black actors, but Sal disagrees. The wall becomes a symbol of racism and hate to Buggin' Out and to other people in the neighborhood, and tensions rise.
The film will be preceded by a short introduction of approximately 10 minutes.
CoronaCheck: To visit this film you will need to show 1) a valid admission ticket 2) a COVID certificate (proof of vaccination, a negative test result or proof of recovery in the CoronaCheck app) 3) your ID. In case you are a student you also need to bring 4) your student ID card. The COVID certificate will be checked at the entrance of restaurant De Zwarte Doos, the admission ticket will be checked upstairs at the entrance of the film hall. Further information about CoronaCheck can be found here.
Do The Right Thing has been the subject of extensive debates from the day of its release in 1989. Over the past 32 years, it has also been the subject of (scientific) research. The death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement have sparked a renewed interest in the film as well as in Lee’s own political statements.
It is impossible to give a complete overview of the many publications about the film let alone the different reactions over the years. The following links are meant as a starting point and focus on the more recent reactions to the film.
In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, Lee explains the inspiration for the character of Radio Raheem. In 2020, Spike Lee made a short film The Three Brothers in which scenes from Do the Right Thing are intercut with the real live deaths of George Floyd and Eric Garner.
In the interview, the video is shown. Please note the video contains graphic images and spoilers to the story line of the film:
In April 2021 of this year, Nicholas Anthony Tracanna published his thesis: Spike Lee: The Importance of Representing and Understanding the Opposite Perspective. In his introduction, Tracanna states: It is clear that Spike Lee recognizes the importance of depicting a wide spectrum of opinions regarding race relations. view (flvc.org)
In this respect, the following scene is a powerful example: Do the Right Thing (5/10) Movie CLIP - Racist Stereotypes (1989) HD - YouTube
The screenplay for Do the Right Thing was written by director and producer Spike Lee, who appears as the character Mookie in the film. The cast also includes Danny Aiello, John Turturro, Ruby Dee, Samuel L. Jackson and Rosie Perez.
The powerful soundtrack contains Fight the Power by Public Enemy, played repeatedly by Radio Raheem on his Boombox.
Reception of the film
We recommend reading some of the articles below to give you a sense of the reactions to and the impact of the film and its particular relevance in the current debates about Black Lives Matter.
Over 30 years later, Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” remains more relevant than ever. Far Flungers 2020
In 1989, renowned critic Roger Ebert wrote:
Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" is the most controversial film of the year, and it only opens today. Do the Right Thing movie review (1989) | Roger Ebert
In 2007, Ebert wrote:
None of these people is perfect. But Lee makes it possible for us to understand their feelings 4 stars Do the Right Thing movie review (1989) | Roger Ebert
It wrestles very explicitly with two strands of black activism, and what those two approaches mean for the community as a whole. Michael Arenda.
I recently rewatched the movie and found myself shocked at how relevant and important the film is when it comes to topics of race, police brutality, and other things like climate change, ageism, gentrification, and a division among underrepresented groups. Jerrica Tisdale, March 2021: 5 Ways Do The Right Thing Is Still Relevant Today - CINEMABLEND
This film will only be shown on the 27th of October in Filmhuis de Zwarte Doos. Buying a ticket online in advance is therefore mandatory if you want to attend this film. You can buy a ticket via the black “order” button on this page. Please note: you can only buy a ticket online; tickets are not purchasable with cash or bank card at the ticket counter.
Room opens 15 minutes before movie starts. Please make sure you are on time.
SG & USE registration
Please register your participation right away when attending the program on campus. Registration can be done by scanning your student card before the start of the program at the venue.
More information about SG & USE can be found here.
This film can be combined with the lecture by Kim Dankoor: Minds on Music: Artists with Attitudez at 12.40 on the same day.