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    Do the Right Thing, a Narrativ of Racial Tensions in a Black Neighborhood of Brooklyn

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    Do the Right Thing is a narrative of the building, and eventually eruption, of racial tensions in a black neighborhood of Brooklyn on a very hot day. Essentially the only non-Black residents are the owners of Sal’s Pizzeria, a longtime neighborhood institution, and a Korean family who recently founded a small market.

    Though the movie starts out lighthearted enough, tensions between the white, Italian-Americans of Sal’s and two rather confrontational young men, Radio Raheem and “Buggin’ Out,” reach fever point late at night and end in a major race riot. The film’s protagonist, and the delivery boy for Sal’s, finds himself in the middle of this conflict.

    Though I did not much like this film at all, I can appreciate the filmmaking methods used in it. The most apparent thing to me was the very frequent use of Dutch-angle shots, which help convey tension and unease, but there were a couple other techniques I noticed that I will try to break down.

    The use of Dutch-angle in this movie is more prevalent than in any other that I have seen before. It’s so often used that even the most casual of moviegoers would actively notice it, and question why it is used. Dutch Angle, understandably, is used to convey a sense of imbalance or unease. This seems logical, because if someone’s view looked like this in real life, something would clearly be amiss. One continued occasion Dutch angle was used was when Radio Raheem was shown, particularly when he was in disagreement or confrontation with others. I would assume this was used particularly on him to create a sense of anxiety about him, which would be justified when he almost directly caused the riot at the end of the second act.

    Another instance it was used (though still involving Radio Raheem) was at the film’s climax, the angry exchange between Buggin’ Out and Sal. These extreme and unnatural angles exude discomfort, uncertainty, and unrest, which helps externalize to the audience the fiery intensity both involved parties feel.

    Though the transition from day to night could be seen as simply present due to the fact the film takes place in our world, where the sun sets nightly, I would argue the one-day, day-to-night setting was chosen intentionally for a greater purpose. The day starts out bright, and slowly descends into darkness, at which point the culmination of the day’s heat, both in temperature and intensity, takes place.

    One very odd bit of editing was the sequence in which people of many races were shown spewing long, complicated strings of insults at people of other races, who were not present onscreen. It is not made clear who these were directly aimed at, nor if they actually happened at all within the film’s story. This sequence really strains the concept of diegesis, as the characters shouting the insults are characters in the movie, and appear to be in the movie’s world, but their comments are included out of context, and are never addressed again. Despite my confusion, I can at least say the unconventional series of scenes made clear, and put into words, the tension and anger of all races to each other.

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    Do the Right Thing, a Narrativ of Racial Tensions in a Black Neighborhood of Brooklyn. (2022, Dec 15). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/do-the-right-thing-a-narrativ-of-racial-tensions-in-a-black-neighborhood-of-brooklyn/

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