What Time It Is


There has been one common occurrence throughout the three Spike Lee Joints that we have watched thus far this semester. In BamboozledDo The Right Thing and School Daze, the opening shot of the action (excluding the opening credits) all feature images of a clock. In Bamboozled, the opening shot is within Delacroix’s apartment, which must be within a clock tower, because one of his walls features a giant glass clock face. In Do The Right Thing, Lee transitions from Rosa Perez’s impassioned “Fight The Power” opening to a extreme close-up of an alarm clock that is held by DJ Daddy Love as he announces, “Wake Up!” Lastly, in School Daze, after letting the audience know that it is Friday at Mission College, Lee fades into a shot of a clock tower before panning to Dap’s divestment protest at the clock tower’s base.

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The three opening shots from Bamboozled, Do The Right Thing and School Daze
The three opening shots from Bamboozled, Do The Right Thing and School Daze

In Tuesday’s class, we discussed the importance of understanding the history of African-Americans in the United States when viewing Lee’s Joints. This is especially made clear in the “I’m Building Me a
Home” opening sequence in School Daze. When viewing all of Lee’s movies we need to understand that the issues he is talking about are not merely within the story itself, but placed in the larger arc of the fight African-Americans have waged against oppression in the United States.


I think there are a number of reasons why Lee uses time in his opening shots. Perhaps it is his way of showing that little has changed over a long-period of time or that we are still in a continuation of the struggle that has gone on for centuries. Maybe it is just a snappy way to begin a movie, but I think there must be deeper meaning behind it.

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