Set location. The film was shot on location in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, with many scenes filmed on Stuyvesant Avenue. And the feature’s climax, which features a riot erupting in the neighborhood, was shot on a set built specifically for the film.
Screenplay. The film’s script was inspired by real-life events, including the killing of a Black man named Michael Griffith in Howard Beach, Queens, in 1986.
Title. The film’s title is a reference to a quote from Malcolm X: “You have to do the right thing, even if it’s hard.” And it has become a rallying cry for social justice advocates and activists, who continue to fight against systemic racism and police violence.
Cast. The film’s cast underwent extensive research and preparation to accurately portray the experiences of Black and Brown residents of the neighborhood. The film’s cast includes several actors who went on to become major stars, including Samuel L. Jackson, John Turturro, Rosie Perez, and Martin Lawrence.
Themes. The film’s themes of racial tension and police brutality remain relevant today, as protests against police violence continue across the United States. And it continues to be explored in numerous films and TV shows in the years since its release.
Nod to the greats. The film’s use of bold colors and striking cinematography was influenced by the work of Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini. The film’s use of overlapping dialogue and naturalistic performances was influenced by the work of filmmakers such as Robert Altman and John Cassavetes.
Realism. The film’s iconic pizza parlor, Sal’s Famous Pizzeria, was actually a real-life pizzeria in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The film’s production team worked closely with local residents to ensure the accuracy of the film’s portrayal of the neighborhood and its residents.
Score. The film’s soundtrack features original music by composer Bill Lee, as well as songs by artists such as Public Enemy and Ella Fitzgerald. The iconic opening credits sequence features Rosie Perez dancing to the song “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy.
Inspiration. The film’s bold and uncompromising approach to race relations has made it a touchstone of American cinema, inspiring generations of filmmakers and activists. The film’s depiction of police brutality and racism has been the subject of much debate and controversy since its release.
Legacy. The film’s climactic scene, which features the destruction of Sal’s Famous Pizzeria, remains one of the most iconic and powerful moments in American cinema. And it hasgacy has endured for over 30 years, with its themes and messages continuing to resonate with audiences around the world.
“Do the Right Thing” is a groundbreaking and powerful film that explores the complex and often fraught dynamics of race relations in America. With its bold visuals, innovative approach, and strong performances, the film has become a classic of American cinema, inspiring generations of filmmakers and activists. These lesser-known facts about the making of the film provide insight into the dedication, talent, and innovation of the cast and crew, and the important themes and issues it explores.
As America continues to grapple with issues of systemic racism and police brutality, the legacy of “Do the Right Thing” remains as relevant and urgent as ever. Spike Lee’s bold and unflinching portrayal of racial tensions and conflicts continues to inspire audiences around the world to confront these difficult and complicated issues, and to work towards a more just and equitable society. As the film approaches its 30th anniversary, it remains a powerful and important reminder of the importance of doing the right thing, even when it is hard.