This. Movie. From the opening credits to that last shot and every scene in between, you cannot deny there is something distinct and innately artistic about the style of Do The Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989.)
Set aside the quick, provocative, often hilarious dialogue or the chilling relevance this film holds to this day – it could be shown in theaters tomorrow and still hold no less resonance when juxtaposed within the current racial tensions of our time. This is a conversation that needs to be worked through, but I want to take a moment in this post to gush over the absolutely wonderful structure and style of the movie.
Every time a new shot came into play, I smiled at the low angle here, the Dutch angle there, the camera swipe from one character to another in a moment of back and forth dialogue. One of my favorite shots was a simple one: Sal and Mookie talking.
Shot from a high angle, it shows them deep in discussion. Mookie snatches a pizza box and slips out of frame. A few moments passes. Then, he’s back in the frame – a few more words are exchanged between the two and Mookie’s gone again: no cuts, no changes of angles, no fancy crane shots or anything. It’s simple, seamless, and wonderful.
It’s moments like this one that shows a level care, attention and a degree of freedom imbued into the very root of this film’s structure – one of many things to celebrate about Do The Right Thing.