This Spike Lee film examines the life of an aspiring actress in New York. She is upset by the treatment of women in the movie industry during one of her screen tests with 'QT'. Out of work ... See full summary »
This film recounts the people and events leading up to the one of the most despicable hate-crimes during the height of the civil-rights movement, the bombing of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Alabama. In that attack, four little African-American girls lost their lives and a nation was simultaneously revolted, angered and galvanized to push the fight for equality and justice on. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Spike Lee and his wife stayed at the Tutwiler hotel while in Birmingham while filming the documentary. The hotel (then a Five Star, five Diamond hotel) was once a a nursing home for retired teachers. It's located only 5 blocks from 16th Street Baptist Church. See more »
A day in 1957, in the afternoon, the evening newscast, there's a piece of film of a gang of white men beating Fred Shuttlesworth, in the street outside of Phillips high school where he'd taken his children. With chains they beat him to the ground. And the reason it was riveting for me, I was fourteen years old, was that the police said they couldn't find the men who did it. And I recognized one of the men. I knew who he was. I'd seen him at Jack Cash's barbecue and I knew the police hung out at...
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moving, informative, and two stories interwoven exceedingly well
Spike Lee's skills as a documentarian are astonishing considering his mixed efforts in dramatic features, which ranges from greatness to failures. With 4 Little Girls and especially When the Levees Broke, Lee takes focus of the subject matter, and expands upon the narrative to make the central story intertwined without losing anything close to worthwhile to know. It goes without saying it honors the memory of those four girls slain in the church in Birmingham, but it also honors the memory for the others who died and fought in the Civl Rights battle of the early 60s (it was a battle by way of perpetration by the likes of "Bull" O'Connell, and the rabid racists like the only man who was convicted in the late 70s of the church bombing).
Lee starts off profiling the girls and their childhoods, their parents and childhood friends recounting their innocence, their energy, being simply kids growing up happy but in the midst of racism all around them. From there Lee branches off- using the "white/colored" segregation of something as minor as a water fountain, to branch off to Birmingham itself, its history, being the focal-point of much of the strife for black people in the south, Dr. King's eventual and crucial involvement, and the white racists. It's staggering information one learns, even if one already thinks they know all there is to know about the civil rights struggle. Just the information on Governor George Wallace (and, surprisingly, seeing Wallace interviewed with his near-gone voice and mind) is enough to raise repeated eyebrows in astonishment.
And then Lee brings it back to the girls again, and that fateful, cursed day that one family member said she saw in a nightmare the night before. The interviews are presented with unabashed compassion for the family members, but not with misplaced sentimentality. The case itself, and how it becomes one of the pivotal pieces that, tragedy besides, leads the civil rights movement even further, has so much power that it's impossible to dramatize it. Lee simply uses music, photographs, and the faces of those who knew these girls, as well as public figures (i.e. Kronkite, Cosby, Jesse Jackson), to accentuate the material. It's skillful storytelling, and told with a story that needs to be told, and revealed to those who may forget the horrors of the American south merely forty-something years ago and more. Simply, one of the director's finest 'joints'.
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