Music and Lyrics by Bill Lee
Performed by Phyllis Hyman
New Version Music (BMI)
Phyllis Hyman appears courtesy of Philadelphia International Records, Inc. See more »
I had not seen Spike Lee's School Daze in 13 years, the first weekend of its release. This movie has a very special meaning to African Americans like me who were college students in the 80s. The school setting acts as a microcosm of black life as a whole. The social issues it tackles are all too familiar to black life: light skin vs. dark skin, college kids vs. the surrounding economically disadvantage community, and the social responsibility of African Americans to Africans across the entire black diaspora among others.
Watching it in 1988 I thought the dance sequences were too long, but in 2001 I now see their worth. The DVD is visually beautiful, while being gritty in spots where it should thanks to the beautiful work of the great Ernest Dickerson. This was a huge leap for Spike as a director, coming from a $175,000 budget for She's Got To Have It to School Daze.
This film does a great job of giving us some of the inner workings of Black Greek letter organizations. It also shows what abuse people will go through to belong. I was actually living School Daze when I saw it in 1988, so I come from that perspective. It was thrilling to figuratively see myself on that screen in 1988.
If you are looking for Academy Award winning performances, then this isn't the film for you, although there are some really fine actors in the film. If you haven't ever lived this existence, it is really hard to appreciate School Daze. I have a great appreciation for Spike, the era, and the story Spike has written and brought to the screen.
Most folks don't get the ending "Wake Up" scene, but it absolutely belongs. The entire movie and most of Spike's works are wake up calls to America, but specifically to the black community.
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