1989 saw the release of Spike Lee’s celebrated “Do The Right Thing” which details the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. On this day everyone’s hate and bigotry smoulders and builds until it explodes into violence and the film serves as a fine example to display escalation in film.
As a huge fan of Spike Lee, this film is something I greatly admire through it being an “undiluted representation of its creator’s artistic command”, as Eric Henderson of Slant Magazine puts it, however, what’s relevant here and what I want to discuss is Lee’s epic rising action that accumulates as, what can only be described as, the world of the film unravels.
In my short film, “Screen Three”, we begin with a peaceful setting as our main character sits comfortably amongst the theatre’s seats. No danger is suggested; there is no trouble and no threat upon anyone in the scene however, this changes following the entrance of the three youths who, after noticing our male lead’s irritation towards them, decide to make his cinematic-experience a living Hell. They begin with a stare, some cheeky chatter amongst themselves and then things become more physical as they throw popcorn at the back of his head. Through failing to get his attention, the trio seat themselves closer, in the seats behind our actor, Peter Glanfield, in fact and continue their annoying ways through kicking and shaking the chairs until Glanfield storms out after being pushed to the limits. The film doesn’t end here, but rather continues to reveal our actor getting into his car before a tragic climax reaches as he sits behind the wheel.
In Do The Right Thing, the rising action is aroused before the violent and perhaps devastating riot scene through a number of ways. First of all the rising and clear scorching heat is highly emphasised, creating a more and more irritable and uncomfortable environment as the film progresses. As an audience we see the rising tempers of our characters because of this heat. Also, the rising voices and annoying, disturbing role of a disabled man, Smiley, played by Roger Guenveur Smith emphasises the accumulating rage in the film which the viewer can emphasise with.
After watching Do The Right Thing for the first time this rise is something I immediately wanted to replicate in my film and I plan to achieve this through the role of my actors and my direction of them. Line delivery and their confidense will be key in doing this and so focusing on the script for the scene’s structure will be equally as important as to be inventive with the actors as the shoot unravels. With the right preparation and focus, I could put together this rising action leading to a dramatic fall like I envision as a director, cinematographer and writer.