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Watch: Spike Lee’s Best Head-On Shots… In 3 Minutes

Watch: Spike Lee's Best Head-On Shots... In 3 Minutes!

The characters in a Spike Lee joint often seem to have a rather intense infatuation with the prolific auteur’s camera.  One of the strongest defining elements of Lee’s style is that characters frequently look directly into the lens. Much of the time, these moments are fourth-wall breaks–the characters are addressing us, the audience. These moments usually interrupt the flow of action in order for a character to pull us aside and give us some information. In certain cases, these moments almost take on a documentary-like feel, as the characters act as if they are being fed questions. In other cases, the characters simply give us a well-timed glance not muttering a single word.  But just as frequently as they break the fourth wall, characters simply address other characters, and Lee’s trademark serves as a POV shot: viewers are put in the position of a character in the film.  This tactic allows us to become more emotionally attached to the moment and the film as a whole.  At the same time, we often find ourselves wondering who exactly a character is addressing at any given moment.  But it is this feeling of disorder and realism that makes Spike Lee’s films such unique viewing experiences.  Here’s a look at some of Lee’s most memorable moments of dialogue between his characters and his lens. 

Films used:
‘She’s Gotta Have It’ (1986)
‘School Daze’ (1988)
‘Do the Right Thing’ (1989)
‘Mo’ Better Blues’ (1990)
‘Malcolm X’ (1992)
‘Clockers’ (1995)
‘Girl 6’ (1996)
‘He Got Game’ (1998)
‘Bamboozled’ (2000)
’25th Hour’ (2002)
‘She Hate Me’ (2004)
‘Inside Man’ (2006)
‘Miracle at St. Anna’ (2008)
‘Red Hook Summer’ (2012)

Jacob T. Swinney is an industrious film editor and filmmaker, as well as a recent graduate of Salisbury University.

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