The Film “Do The Right Thing” By Spike Lee

The given film review focuses on Do the Right Thing, directed, produced, and written by Spike Lee. The reflection addresses two key scenes by analyzing how directors and cinematographers shape meaning in the movie. The emphasis is put on choices made of the shots and angles with their corresponding reasons. In addition, the lighting and angle functions are assessed to showcase their relevance for the scenes of interest. Finally, the reflection extensively explores the role of the film’s aspect ratio in the development of key themes. In Movies and Meaning, Stephen Prince (2012) states that sounds and images created by filmmakers always have some form of mechanism and processes conveying the underlying meaning to the viewers. Therefore, analyzing the selected two scenes is about deciphering Spike Lee’s intentions through the assessment of lighting, angles, and aspect ratios.

It is important to note that every scene in a film product is a complex and intricate process. In Movies and Meaning, Stephen Prince (2012) states that it takes several takes and adjustments to perfect a scene in order to ensure that the meaning, emotions, and context are properly conveyed. The first scene of interest takes place at the beginning of the film when Mookie, the protagonist, leaves his house to get to his work at a pizzeria (Lee, 1989). The second scene is a racially heated confrontation scene between Italian Americans and African Americans at the pizzeria.

In the first scene, the shots and angles used are wide, long, and expansive, where Mookie is placed at the center but appears small and at a distance. In Movies and Meaning, Prince (2012) states these types of scenes are meant to be encompassing to convey the meaning in regards to the sense of community and large group interconnectedness. The lighting is saturated and uses warm colors only to communicate the common issue of hot weather impacting all members of the community. By making the character small, including many background actors, the shots become wide and long.

In the second scene, the angles are tilted to 45 degrees and shots position actors directly in front of the camera. In Movies and Meaning, Prince (2012) states this is called the Dutch or canted angle, which is used to make the viewers feel uneasy and discomforted due to a perceived loss of balance. In the case of lighting, a similar pattern for warm colors is used, but they are less saturated and grimmer. The meaning behind such a technique is to illustrate the animosity and racial hatred between two opposing groups. The characters deliver their heated racial slurs by breaking the fourth wall, which is why this angle feels personal and direct. When it comes to the aspect ratio used in the film is 1.85:1, which is considered a normal widescreen format to provide encompassment and expansiveness.

In conclusion, Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing uses Dutch angles, wide and long shots, as well as warm and saturated colors to communicate the tension and hotness plaguing the neighborhood. In Movies and Meaning, Prince (2012) states a wide aspect ratio is used to convey a sense of width, expansiveness, and encompassment because the film is about a community battling heat and each other. The meaning behind the first scene is to inform a viewer about the sense of community in which Mookie lives. The second scene conveys the deeply personal and confrontational nature of racial tensions between African Americans and Italian Americans.


Lee, S. (1989). Do the Right Thing [Film]. Universal Pictures.

Prince, S. (2012). Movies and meaning: An introduction to film (6th ed.). Pearson.