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I watched this documentary yesterday afternoon. I remember learning about
the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing (its importance in the Civil Rights
Movement in the 1950s and 1960s) but I never saw how the effects on the
people whose lives were permanently altered and not just from reaping the
benefits like we do today. This documentary opened showed this
It brought tears to my eyes to listen and see the relatives of those four girls who were killed. Unless you have a blind eye, a deaf ear, and a hard-a** heart, it is impossible to not be moved when you see these girls' sisters and mothers describe that Sunday morning when Addie, Denise, Maxine, and Carole were killed. I could see the hurt in the mothers' eyes and hear pain in their voices when talking about their babies.
I highly recommend watching this documentary. Spike Lee did an outstanding job.
Lee's film does an excellent job of bringing the girls to life. It is very easy to lump the four girls together into one entity, as the "Eyes on the Prize" documentary did, but Spike Lee was able to set them apart as individuals and shows the grief felt by the friends and relatives to this day. However, the documentary seems to tell only about two-thirds of the story. Some of the nitty-gritty details about the bombing and the investigation are quickly summarized in order to bring the film to a quick conclusion. If I didn't know from other sources, I would not have known, for example, the nature of the bomb -- was it set by a timer? Thrown into the church? (I know from news accounts that it was the latter, but you would not have known if you were uninitiated and just learning through this documentary.) There are also questions that come to mind that Lee leaves unanswered: What was the reaction of the white community in the area (I know, for example, that the bombing was certainly not unanimously cheered by the white south)? How was the bombing investigated? What eventually led the investigators to the guilty parties? The story of the 15 year search for the bomber and his accomplices (in fact, the search went on longer than that, even into the year 2001) is an important part of the story. A film as powerful as this should have taken the time to go into every nook and cranny of the story. Yes, it was excellent. Yes, it should have won the Documentary award for that year. Yes, it brought a tear to my eye. But there could have been so much more, and could have made the story that much more powerful.
This is a great documentary which speaks to the central battles of the civil rights movement and the still present racism in America. Wide range of interview subjects from family members, politicians and those who covered the story when it happened. Spike Lee's work elicits strong emotions at times but also leaves you to provide your own conclusions as well. Recommended along with dramatized movies such as Ghosts of Mississippi, Mississippi Burning and the little watched A Long Walk Home. Watch these to learn something of the darker side of American history and decide for yourself how far we have come in the last forty years.
To begin, I enjoyed 4 Little Girls. The events of September 15, 1963 should
be remembered forever - the four girls are martyrs for the fight against
racism. Spike Lee did an excellent job telling the story. The video and
photographs of past and present Birmingham set a great scene for those not
from Alabama. The Joan Baez song is heart-breaking to say the least. My only
problem with the film, and for me it was a severe problem, was the inclusion
of modern-day African-American "activists" in a lame attempt to connect with
the modern day.
Jesse Jackson was not needed. Reggie White was not needed. Speaking for myself only, but hoping I'm not in the minority, Jesse Jackson has no credibility. He's anywhere that has a TV camera. He's all about Jesse, positively, absolutely, and positively. I don't need "The Reverend" flapping his gums about the ramifications of the Birmingham bombing. I don't need an ex-football player telling me about the bombing either. They have nothing to do with the event, and really have no place in the film.
Generally I'm not a big Spike fan, after all, I hate the Knicks. In all fairness though, the movie was excellent. 7/10.
Spike Lee did an excellent job with this documentary. I too, was extremely shocked that it did not win the Oscar the year it was nominated. One of the victims was my cousin, my fathers favorite niece at that. Growing up and learning about this tragedy first hand was very enlightening and yet tragic all at the same time. This film definitely captures the pain and suffering of my family and of the entire black community that lived through such racially biased times in Birmingham, Alabama. I think that this film should be seen by all, and not just during Black History month. In my opinion, there is no justification for the actions of those involved and it took some time and patience but they too had to pay for their crimes.
...Everytime you see the oscars, the movies about the holocaust win the awards. Spike's movie lost out to a holocaust documentary that year. And I finally saw it with my own eyes. Hollywood sucks. This movie should have won the oscar for best documentary that year.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"4 Little Girls" is an excellent, touching documentary. Spike Lee, in
his documentary debut, tells the story of one of the key events of the
civil rights movement. The death of four young girls who are killed
during their Sunday school class, by a bunch of racists, one Sunday
morning in 1963.
Lee tells his story in a simple, easy manner. He doesn't hammer us over the head with a message, he allows the story and the participants in the story. Lee trusts that his audience will form their own opinions, and discover the truth.
It is wonderful to see that after thirty-five years, so many of the important "witnesses" to this story were still alive to give testimony to what had occurred. Whether it be the parents, friends or people who lived in the community, all of their stories were compelling needed to be heard.
One of the most memorable scenes for me was the scene with former Governor of Alabama, George Wallace. I'm amazed that Lee was able to get him to make an appearance. Even after thirty-five years, the viewer can see that Wallace still didn't get it. In one scene he introduces an African-American friend of his, saying he doesn't go anywhere without him. When his friend comes on camera however, you can see that he is very uncomfortable about being seen with Wallace.
At the end of the film there is a little discussion about the events being a part of "God's plan". As the participants are deeply religious people they give their views, but no one is really sure. Yet one of the mother's goes on to say that she had to put all of the pain and sadness behind her. She was able to look back and say that although this horrible thing was a part of her life, she still had so many other blessings to be thankful for. It's wonderfully strong, positive people like this that are the true heroes. God bless them.
9 out of 10
The bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963 was sort of the 9/11 of its day. Its interesting this bombing was on September 15 only four days later. It was a crime that shook the nation and the world. Its still in the news! There was a man who only recently was convicted for his role in it. Spike Lee does an amazing job in bringing this tragedy back to us. In interviews with the families of these girls and various others. The one that got me is the one with George Wallace. I thought it was really pathetic the way he kept bringing his butler into the picture and saying that he had a black friend. If anyone symbolized the bigotry and violence in the South during this period, its Wallace and I think to show him in this was wrong. By the way, the song at the opening when they show these poor little girl's graves will haunt you for a long time.
This is an incredible documentary! How it failed to win the Oscar puzzles me, although I must confess that I haven't seen the winner. Be that as it may, Spike Lee put together a moving ad compelling tribute to four innocents. The incident covered here, ironically, probably gave much needed impetus to the civil-rights movement, particularly with people in the North, a bittersweet point not lost on many of the interviewees. See this documentary! Most highly recommended!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I very much enjoyed Spike Lee's first foray into the documentary style.
He did a great job of giving each of the participants the time to
discuss the background of each of the subjects, of the politics of the
time, and the overall state of affairs for everyone involved.
I think his best work within this feature, aside from securing the trust of the kin of the 4 girls murdered, which is tough in itself, was the interview with George Wallace. It took me a second to believe that that was actually him, and that he agreed to the interview. The features on the disc I watched gave the full interview, and you realized that this man was near the end of his life and quite ill, and probably trying to save some face for his earlier actions. It was both tough and fascinating to watch the former governor make excuses for his earlier actions, and doing so by talking about what he did for black students while he was governor. He frequently called over his "black friend" to be in the camera shot with him. You find out later that the same man who has "traveled all over the world" with the governor is also working for him as his nurse. Plus, the same person gave no indication, spoken or unspoken, of his friendship with the governor. He simply looked nervous, not someone who looked in full support of the governor's friendship.
I highly recommend this documentary (and accompanying "making of"). I look forward to your comments.
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