The Novice Cinephile

Exploring the world of cinema one film at a time.

Do the Right Thing is director Spike Lee’s fourth film, and it packs an emotional punch. Lee tackles everyday racism, police brutality, and white privilege in this amazing story.

The film follows Mookie (played by Spike Lee) as he works for a pizzeria owner named Sal (Danny Aiello) and his two sons, Vito (Richard Edson) and Pino (John Turturro). We see Mookie interact with his girlfriend, his friends, and his family throughout the film.

When watching this movie, I wasn’t sure what its message was going to be. What’s the ending going to be for Mookie? What are his struggles, his goals, and who does he want to be? As time went on, I noticed the real ambiguity of the story that was being told. We’re in the real world, and things don’t always play out like they do in the movies. Mookie doesn’t become a Jedi, and we’re certainly not searching for the ark of the covenant. No, Do the Right Thing is about people. They can be lazy, funny, stubborn, racist, broke, and downright silly at times, but that’s apart of human nature.

The film’s message is “Do the right thing,” but what is the right thing? That’s something each viewer has to decide for themselves because this film won’t give you a straight answer. It’s a look into the human condition and how we perceive racial justice. That’s what makes this film so powerful. Humans are flawed, and we have to learn how to overcome those flaws. The film’s ending gives us two powerful quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. These two quotes are technically opposing views, but neither of them is wrong.

Do the Right Thing is a movie that wants you to think for yourself. It’ll pose the question, but you need to decide the answer. That’s one of the many reasons why this film is relevant even 30 years later. Spike Lee delivers a funny, dramatic, and gut-punching film that is one of the most riveting stories I’ve ever seen.

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