Spike Lee Masterclass & Do the Right Thing (1989)

The message is right there, flat out, in Public Enemy’s title song: “You got to fight the power, fight the power, fight the powers that be.” And it reverberates through the movie — at times quite literally — rocking the Brooklyn streets.

It rocks the theater audience, too, but this is a complex, multilayered movie, and the in-your-face attitude supplies only the movie’s powerful, thumping bass line. The story as a whole — the melody — is sweeter, mellower, and Lee orchestrates the mixture of elements masterfully, first letting one dominate, then the other.

Lee puts a lot of stories, and a lot of characters, in motion here, and they ricochet off one another like billiard balls. There’s Mookie’s sister Jade (Lee’s real sister, Joie Lee), who’s tired of having his butt in her apartment; Da Mayor (Ossie Davis), a comradely drunk; Smiley (Roger Guenveur Smith), who stutters something not quite comprehensible about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X; and Mookie’s girlfriend, Tina (Rosie Perez), who wants him to take responsibility for their baby boy. Linking them all together is Mister Senor Love Daddy (Sam Jackson), the deejay for WE-LOVE radio, who provides commentary and musical accompaniment to the events of the day from the window of his broadcast booth.

The movie runs on emotion, a highly questionable, highly flammable power source. Lee isn’t a politician, and he doesn’t censor himself or make sure that he has all his ideas worked out in his head first. He just tosses them out. As a result, the film is a moral workout. At once a plea for tolerance and a rationale for violent opposition, the film embraces both its patron saints, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, then invites us to hassle out the contradictions.

– Hal Hinson / The Washington Post – June 30, 1989

Tickets 40 € (incl. film and masterclass), festival pass or free vouchers not valid for this event.
The film starts at 2 pm and Spike Lee’s masterclass follows straight after around 4 pm. Moderator is cultural journalist J.P. Pulkkinen and the audience has the chance to ask questions at the end. The masterclass ends at approx. 5.30 pm.

We will screen a 35 mm print of Do the Right Thing.

  • Orig. title:
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Swedish, Finnish
  • Distribution:
  • Cinematography: Ernest Dickerson
  • Editing: Barry Alexander Brown