Fight The Power Essay

1034 words - 5 pages

Aside from the leisure to watch movies, film studies is another step into the implicit movie analysis. In the award winning American comedy-drama film, Do The Right Thing (1989), Spike Lee portrays the racial and social issues over the plot duration of twenty-four hours during the hottest day of the summer in Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. The story centers around the ethnic tension between the Italian-American family that owns the local pizza place, “Sal’s Famous Pizzeria”, and a group of African Americans in the neighborhood. Throughout the film, Lee uses a variety of mise-en-scène that creates an overall look and mood of the film, including the decor of the neighborhood and pizzeria, lighting, camera angles, music, costumes, and other components.
One of the vital elements of the film that creates the tense mood is the setting. The film is set on the hottest day of the summer in a multicultural neighborhood—Bed-Stuy. The heat exacerbates the ethnic tension among the main characters: Sal, the Italian-American owner of the pizzeria; his sons Pino and Vito; his African-American delivery boy Mookie; Radio Raheem, the guy who blazes boom box with him everywhere; and Buggin’ Out, one who boyscotts Sal’s pizzeria for excluding Afrian-American stars, or ‘brothas’, from the all-Itatlian American “Wall of Fame”. The brightened colors further highlight the sense of the heatwave and emerging tension in the area.
Camera angles are another crucial components of the mise-en-scène. In the film, Spike Lee uses a variation of camera angles and shots to indicate different feelings of the character and setting. For example, the camera zooms in on Radio Raheem’s face to focus on his serious facial expression several times throughout the 120 minutes screen duration. The shots are sometimes bottom-up in order to make him seem cold and impassive from his appearance. Moreover, the scenes in the pizzeria are shot in a “conventional shot-reverse technique” (Finnegan 84) that gives us a more realistic view of the scenes since it gives the audience each character’s view. Lee also loves to have people talk directly to the camera in all his films—known as “Spikeism” or “[a] device sprinkled throughout the feature that stop the narrative yet reinforce the film’s theme” (George 80). These adds on to the mise-en-scène of the film.
The contrast between the background jazz instrumental music played by the neighborhood deejay for WE-LOVE Radio, Mister Senor Love Daddy, and the Public Enemy’s rap anthem “Fight the Power” from Radio Raheem’s boom box also builds on a sense of racial tension within the composition. The jazz instrumental music soothes the atmosphere, which emphasizes the rap anthem at the same time. Public Enemy’s title song: “You got to fight the power, fight the power, fight the powers that be” indirectly refers to the political issues that Lee wants to communicate through the narration. African-Americans are seen as the lower casts...

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