Spike Lee is one of the most powerful political voices in black American film-making. During the late 1980s and early 1990s he released a string of films which either challenged or amused. Often both. The likes of Malcolm X, She’s Gotta Have It, Mo’ Better Blues and Jungle Fever made him a household name. However, his masterpiece is indubitably Do the Right Thing. A film as relevant today as it was on release, thirty years ago.
Mookie (Lee) is an apathetic deliveryman living and working in Brooklyn. He lives with his sister (Joie Lee), generally avoids his girlfriend (Rosie Perez), and mother of his baby, and works at Sal’s Pizzeria. Sal (Danny Aiello) runs the joint with his two sons, Pino (John Turturro) and Vito (Richard Edson), and is proud of the food he serves up to the largely black community. As the heat rises, tensions begin to build on the street.
Do the Right Thing is a remarkably powerful, compelling and insightful work. Lee’s obvious anger spills out onto the celluloid. A film which is so cleverly made that you’re unlikely to realise what’s happening until the very end. Race relations and ethnic inequalities are placed front and centre. Leaving the audience themselves to ponder the titular question. Do the Right Thing is a battle of two competing ideologies. It’s bliztering, thought-provoking and vibrant cinema.
Special edition features:
- New 4K digital restoration, approved by cinematographer Ernest Dickerson, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
- Introductions by Lee
- Making “Do the Right Thing,” a documentary from 1988 by St. Clair Bourne
- New interviews with costume designer Ruth E. Carter, camera assistant Darnell Martin, New York City Council Member Robert Cornegy Jr., and writer Nelson George
- Interview with editor Barry Alexander Brown from 2000
- Programs from 2000 and 2009 featuring Lee and members of the cast and crew
- Twenty Years Later, an interview programme from 2009 featuring Lee and members of the cast and crew
- Music video for Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” directed by Lee, with remarks from rapper Chuck D
- Behind-the-scenes footage
- Cannes Film Festival press conference from 1989
- Deleted and extended scenes
- Original storyboards, trailer, and TV spots
- PLUS: An essay by critic Vinson Cunningham, and extensive excerpts from the journal Lee kept during the preparation for and production of the film
Do The Right Thing is released on Blu-ray by the Criterion Collection on 26 August.