Do the right thing

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German title Do the right thing
Original title Do the right thing
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1989
length 120 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Spike Lee
script Spike Lee
production 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks,
Spike Lee
music David Hinds ,
Bill Lee
camera Ernest R. Dickerson
cut Barry Alexander Brown

Do the Right Thing is a 1989 American feature film directed by Spike Lee . The tragic comedy , produced by Lee, who also wrote the screenplay and also starred, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 1989 . The US theatrical release followed on June 30, 1989, and the film was shown in German cinemas from July 13, 1989. The film is viewed by critics as part of the New Black Cinema .


A hot day in Brooklyn : The Italian-American Sal has been running a pizzeria on Stuyvesant Avenue for 20 years . His two sons Pino and Vito work with the good-natured, always mediating Sal. Almost all blacks live in the run-down neighborhood, and many are unemployed. Some hang around all day, clinging to beer cans, and envy more successful people in the neighborhood like a Korean shop owner. Sal is proud that the people around him accept him. Conflicts with his listless black delivery boy Mookie are quickly settled, although Sal's son Pino occasionally ventilates his dissatisfaction with racist slogans. Pino tries to persuade his father to move out of the Black Quarter. There is a quarrel between brothers because Vito gets along well with Mookie, who has not been with his girlfriend and little son for a week.

The predominantly African-American neighborhood consists of prominent personalities that often have no prospects. The friendly and wise drunk “Da Mayor” is considered the unofficial mayor of the street, he feels drawn to the “Mother Sister” who always sits at her window, but who rejects his advances. Smiley, a stuttering beggar, tries to sell photos of heroes of the civil rights movement on the street . Mister Señor Love Daddy runs a one-man radio station playing African American music and preaching love. Sweet Dick Willy, ML and Coconut Sid are three more or less unemployed middle-aged men who watch the neighborhood in their chairs. Some in the neighborhood look enviously at the Korean store, whose operators have only recently been in the USA and are already economically successful. In contrast to most of his buddies, Mookie has a job, but shows little overall ambition to get ahead - in contrast to his sister Jade, with whom he lives. Jade gets along well with Sal, which Mookie is increasingly suspicious of. Mookie also has a young son with his girlfriend Tina, but the relationship goes rather badly as he often does not answer for days.

Sal is proud of its Italian-American origins and presents a “Wall of Fame” in the pizzeria, which consists of portraits of Italian-American stars. The black activist Buggin Out displeases the gallery and criticizes Sal for not including blacks. He threatens to boycott Sal's business. Irritated, the pizzeria owner pushes the young unemployed out of his business and bans him from the house. Buggin Outs Attempts to boycott are unsuccessful as Sal is popular. Only the beggar Smiley and the music lover “Radio Raheem”, who had an argument with Sal because of his ghetto blaster , join him. Late in the evening, Sal is extremely satisfied with day-to-day business; he wants to rename the shop “Sal & Sons” and thus persuade Pino to stay. But then Buggin Out and Radio Raheem appear in Sal's pizzeria. "Hip Hop music" ("Fight The Power" by Public Enemy ) roars from the boom at maximum volume . Annoyed by the harassment, Sal destroys the device with a baseball bat and lets himself be carried away by the derogatory word nigger . The dispute quickly degenerates into a brawl, in which previously neutral residents of the district also participate.

The police intervene, the vigorously defending Radio Raheem is strangled to death by a cop in a headlock with a baton. When the police drove away, the black residents of the neighborhood reacted angrily to this tragic event, also as there had been similar incidents of police violence before, and turned their anger on Sal's pizzeria. Mookie turns against his employer and throws a garbage can in the window, whereupon the pizzeria is destroyed, looted and set on fire . The street battle threatens to spread to other businesses, but can be contained by the fire brigade and police. Da Mayor is able to pull Sal and his sons away from the angry mob. Smiley, who had lit the first match, can now finally a black image on the destroyed wall of fame hang of Italian Laden, the handshake between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X shows.

A day later, Sal is stunned in front of the ruins of his destroyed "Famous Pizzeria". Mookie demands Sal's outstanding wages, and Sal, disappointed by him, throws the dollar bills at him so that they land on the floor. After a careful reconciliation, the two paths part.


Spike Lee described this film as an apartheid film about the United States and as a contribution to the election campaign between longtime Mayor of New York City Edward I. Koch and the African-American candidate David Dinkins , who eventually prevailed against Koch in the primaries and ultimately in the elections also won against Rudolph Giuliani . “It should be clear to everyone that the beautiful words about free America, which has room for every skin color, were never more than mendacious phrases. At the end of my film, people don't shake hands to sing this We are the World crap, ”said Lee. “I want the viewer to have a sense of horror at the end of the film. I want to point out that we need to talk about these problems and face them. If that doesn't happen, it will only get worse. ”The music for the film was provided by David Hinds and Bill Lee , Spike's father.


"A furiously staged film that develops into an oppressive, disturbing study of violence."

“In 1989, Spike Lee did everything right. Do The Right Thing has the driving dynamics of a 'Public Enemy' track, is as exciting and varied as a scorching summer day and is perhaps the smartest, most honest and stylish film on the subject of racism that has ever been made. "


“Seeing the film again today, I was reminded of what a stylistic achievement it is. Spike Lee was 32 when he made it, assured, confident, in the full joy of his power. He takes this story, which sounds like grim social realism, and tells it with music, humor, color and exuberant invention. A lot of it is just plain fun. […] None of these people is perfect. But Lee makes it possible for us to understand their feelings; his empathy is crucial to the film, because if you can't try to understand how the other person feels, you're a captive inside the box of yourself. Thoughtless people have accused Lee over the years of being an angry filmmaker. He has much to be angry about, but I don't find it in his work. The wonder of Do the Right Thing is that he is so fair. "

“When I see the film again today, it will remind me of what a stylistic achievement it is. Spike Lee was 32 when he turned it, safe, confident, taking full advantage of his freedom. He takes this story, which sounds like gritty social realism, and tells it with music, humor, color, and lavish fiction. A lot of it is just plain fun. [...] None of these people is perfect. But Lee makes it possible for us to understand their feelings; his empathy is crucial to the film because if you don't try to understand how the other person is feeling, you are a prisoner in your own cage. Thoughtless people over the years have accused Lee of being an angry filmmaker, but I don't find that in his work. The miracle of Do the Right Thing is that it's so fair. "

Reclam's guide found the film to begin like an "ironic comedy" and develop into a "compelling study of the origins of violence." Spike Lee is a "precise observer who brings reality onto the screen in such a way that the viewer recognizes the causes, backgrounds and contexts as if in passing."


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. See release dates in the Internet Movie Database , accessed on May 23, 2010.
  2. ↑ Film Lexicon
  3. ^ Howard Kurtz: The Polarization of NY Democrats. In: The Washington Post , September 10, 1989, p. A8.
  4. See Do the Right Thing. In: The large TV feature film lexicon. CD-ROM. Directmedia Publ., 2006, ISBN 978-3-89853-036-1 .
  5. ^ A b Dieter Krusche: Reclam's film guide. Reclam, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-15-010676-1 , p. 205.
  6. ^ Do the Right Thing. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed January 7, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  7. Racism is ... on
  8. ^ Roger Ebert: Do the Right Thing . In: Chicago Sun-Times , May 27, 2001.