A great movie from the late 1980s gets great treatment on DVD.
The packaging feels sorta clunky. (I had to write something, right?)Director Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing movie of its time, the late 1980s, but by the same token it's timeless. Taking place during one hot day in Brooklyn, we are taken into this world of all cultures where tensions steadily move upward throughout the day. At its core this film is about an Italian American family that runs a pizza shop in an African American neighborhood. There is tension between some of the family members and the locals, with other cultures being thrown in. The cause of the tension is simple, the Italian Americans run the shop their way, while the locals want it run differently. Eventually, this all reaches the boiling point with there being a riot sequence resulting in the death of a beloved neighborhood figure. In the end, the characters seem to understand that we all must find a way to live together.
While certainly not perfect, Do the Right Thing is the kind of movie that makes no apologies for what it is and isn't. In that way it becomes a perfect film.
Spike Lee is on both of these commentary tracks. One is an older commentary that features Lee, the Director of Photography Ernest Dickerson, Production Designer Wynn Thomas and actor Joie Lee. The other commentary is more recent and only features Lee. This is the one I chose to go with because I feel that it was the most relevant. Lee talks about the film, the state of the world in the late 1980s, and how he feels the material holds up over time. All in all I found him to be insightful and I am impressed that, after much success, he continues to be as interested in his politics as he is.
Deleted and Extended Scenes
Do the Right Thing: 20 Years Later
This featurette is brand spanking new and it features the cast and crew today. They reflect back on making this movie, the material, how it is still important, and what it was like to work with Spike Lee. Sure this thing is filled with the usual glad handing, and other tropes that these featurettes are noted for. However, I saw this movie when I was 15. I didn't know anything about anything, but I did know that I had seen a movie that was not only really entertaining but special as well. The people involved in its creation seem to have felt, and still feel, the same way.
Do the Right Thing Featurettes
This release showcases the following featurettes:
- Behind the Scenes
- Making Do The Right Thing
- Editor Barry Brown
- The Riot Sequence
- Cannes, 1989
I decided to put all of these short pieces together for two reasons. The first one is that these things seem older, as if they are off of other releases. Secondly, I felt that things were so similar regarding the content that it sort of made sense. Due to time constraints I only watched The Riot Sequence and Cannes, 1989. I wanted to see how they put that sequence together and it's all on display with storyboards. When one considers how much work went into that one scene it is truly astounding. Lastly, Cannes, 1989 is interesting because the Foreign Press gets to ask Lee questions about the movie. Having read books about Sex, Lies and Videotape it is important to note that that film, and not Lee's inner-city opus, carried the day in France that year.
Anamorphic Widescreen - 1.85:1. This movie looked really good on DVD. The DVD transfer was really solid giving this movie a nice, colorful look that seemed to capture the same contrast that Do the Right Thing had when I saw this movie in the theater. I didn't notice any moments where the picture faltered or things seemed like they got overly cooked in the transfer process. Lastly, across the 4 hours of extra content that this disc had, I think that they did a very solid job of keeping the quality up.
Languages: English, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitled in English, Spanish and French. The audio on this release was as good as I remember it being when I watched this movie on home video and cable. Now, is this a good thing or a bad thing? I think it's good that the audio has held up over the years. Universal should be given credit for preserving it. The other part of that question is... shouldn't the audio have been a little bit better than my previous viewings? Something tells me the last question is unimportant. Would I really notice if the audio was different is the more appropriate one to ask.
Spike Lee and Danny Aiello are presented on this front cover which features a red background/sidewalk. The back features 4 shots from this film, a description of what this movie is about, a Bonus Features listing, a cast list and technical specs. Both discs in this set are stored in one amaray case, which keeps things very economical here.
This movie hangs its hat on one line and one line only. It is that moment where Buggin Out (Giancarlo Esposito) gets mad about there not being "any brothers" on the wall of Sal's Pizza Shop. Sal (Danny Aiello) replies simply with, "You want brothers on the wall?Get your own place you can do what you want to do."
In that small exchange the reality of these characters situations is crystalized. These people have been placed in a situation where they have to work together. Because of this it is natural that these characters would come to resent one another. As this resentment builds up, coupled with the fact that the only dialogue between these characters of different races is negative, no doubt has to express itself in some way.
Sadly, when this happens it ends up being violent, but that is where Do the Right Thing maintains it's brilliance. After the big riot scene in this movie it now seems that the characters can deal with one another. They have come to learn something and it is because of this that everything about the nature of their relationships is forever altered.