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"When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts" (2006) - Spike Lee's Documentary about New Orleans Citizens' Story of Hurricane Katrina's Aftermath

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On 9/27/2015 at 10:00 PM, DonRocks said:

I remember seeing "Do The Right Thing" (1989) when it came out in the theaters and really liking it; this, after *detesting* Spike Lee's first major film,   

This film is cutting-edge, even today, and it's hard to believe it's over a quarter-century old - it has easily stood the test of time, and is not dated in the slightest. It converted me from being a Spike Lee detractor to being a Spike Lee fan, and if you haven't seen it, I encourage you to do so.

Note that this is also the debut film of Martin Lawrence and Rosie Perez.

"Do The Right Thing" was completely shut out in the 1990 Academy Awards. This is a better movie than "Dances With Wolves" (which was one of the first Best Picture Winners that made me realize the Academy Awards are a travesty - how could this not have been nominated for *anything*?

Why are critics afraid to go against the status quo and use their own minds? What good are they if they don't?

I thought Spike Lee did a great job with When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in 4 Acts.

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This thread about John Besh, along with Hurricane Harvey, made me think of This Fundraiser for Willie Mae Seaton, and turned my attention to the 2006 HBO Documentary, "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts," by Spike Lee. I knew very little about the documentary, but know Spike Lee can be quite a rabblerouser, so I was prepared for a "citizens' point of view"-type documentary. What I wasn't prepared for was just how brutal this was to watch - it was one of the most difficult things I've watched on television.

Lee stayed in the background, asking questions nearly silently, and allowed everyday citizens from New Orleans, focusing on the Lower Ninth Ward, to speak their minds ... and speak their minds, they did.

I *loved* this documentary and hated FEMA's response to the hurricane after watching the first three episodes, and midway through the fourth episode (there is also a fifth "epilogue" which is nearly two-hours long, so it's really in five parts).

However, midway through the fourth episode, there was a clear change in focus. The viewer went from feeling truly sorry for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and being angry that FEMA took so damned long to get down there, to being force-fed propaganda about how this natural disaster was largely the federal government's fault for *happening* - not the aftermath; the actual hurricane itself.

Look at New Orleans on a map:

Screenshot 2017-11-05 at 10.09.23.pngScreenshot 2017-11-05 at 10.08.44.png

That is the very definition of being "in harm's way," given this country's history of hurricanes, and I refuse to blame the federal government for the existence of Katrina any more than I do for the 2004 tsunami that wiped out 250,000 people in Southeast Asia.

Yes, it's possible to feel *deeply* sorry for the people of New Orleans, and to hate FEMA's slow response, without going any further than that. Spike Lee lost me midway through the fourth episode because he tried to blame this whole thing on the Federal Government, whereas before he was merely evoking the viewer's sympathies for the poor citizens who lost everything in the flooding.

The epilogue, the two-hour epilogue, wasn't quite as blatant, but it was in the same vein.

Still, it's an important documentary, masterfully crafted, and Lee almost does a perfect job with it until he interjected too much of his own personality towards the end.

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