Archive for the ‘spike lee’ Category

Spike Lee — When the Levees Broke (2006)

March 22, 2007
In this 4 hour documentary, made for HBO, Spike Lee investigates the disaster that was Hurricane Katrina. Lee looks at all the angles: the natural, social, governmental, and human disaster that Katrina created in its wake and aftermath. It is an eye opening film, and tries to ask more questions than it is able to resolve about the stakes and impact that Katrina had and has on the lives of those who were born, raised and continue to call New Orleans home.

The documentary starts with the events leading up to the storm, and the government’s failure early on. The second part focuses more on the media, and the good and bad that resulted from information on a mass scale. Lee does a good job of weaving together the big picture with the lives of individuals and the personal stories that those at the center tell about their experience. This film made me realize the filter and blinders that I have as a person who has never been to the southeastern US, and the difficulty of discerning the info-glut of CNN and the Internet.

The best insight of the film is not that we have a race problem in America (which is true, and may be the reason Crash won best picture immediately following Katrina), but rather the film points out the integral nature of human relationships that are mediated by social institutions. A personal disruption of your everyday life can be traumatic, but this can be exponentially damaging when social structures also start to fail in helping people recover a sense of normalcy and meaning. We all want personal freedom, and often times we overlook our intimate connection to the reality of a social world, involving a massive web of relationships. What we need is a politics that takes into account the reality of both.