Thursday, August 03, 2006

Agony of New Orleans, Through Spike Lee’s Eyes

Kudos to MadRap98 for the link.

NEW ORLEANS — From the beginning Spike Lee knew that Hurricane Katrina was a story he had to tell. Watching the first television images of floating bodies and of desperate people, mostly black, stranded on rooftops, he quickly realized he was witnessing a major historical moment. As those moments kept coming, he spent almost a year capturing the hurricane’s sorrowful consequences for a four-hour documentary, “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” to be shown on HBO this month.

The film, which Mr. Lee directed and produced, comes 20 years after the August 1986 debut of his first hit, “She’s Gotta Have It,” about Nola Darling, a Brooklyn graphic artist, and her three lovers. The provocative films that followed (“Do the Right Thing,” “Jungle Fever,” “Malcolm X,” among others), with their searing cultural critiques, cemented Mr. Lee’s reputation as his generation’s pioneering black filmmaker. This year he had a commercial and critical success with “Inside Man,” about a bank heist.

Like him or not, Mr. Lee, 49, is an artist many people feel they know. People, black and white, approached him and the “Levees” crew here, he said, imploring: “Tell the story. Tell the story.” “It becomes like an obligation we have,” he said.

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