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Watch: Spike Lee’s ‘Do the Right Thing’: The Camera Work Behind the Tension

Watch: Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing': The Camera Work Behind the Tension

I have often thought that if there were one director who could direct a film version of Shakespeare’s ‘Titus Andronicus,’ it would be Spike Lee. Why that play? Because it’s one of Shakespeare’s bloodiest, most violent works. Why Spike Lee? Because he understands how to  portray violence: his fight scenes, specifically those portraying hand-to-hand combat between humans, are among the most thrilling of such scenes portrayed in cinema. But why are these fight scenes so successful? Because Lee understands tension. A fist fight is usually the eruption of profound tension–sometimes built slowly, sometimes in a millisecond. And Lee always gives us both halves of the occurrence. In this video essay on Lee’s seminal ‘Do the Right Thing,’ “Film-Drunk Love” shows how Lee, through clever cuts and angle shifts, manages to show the tension between the actor and the lens and between one character and another, in the opening credits and in an altercation between Bug-Out and a bigoted neighbor.

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