4 Little Girls: Initial Impressions Thread

From a 2013 interview with Spike Lee:

THR: How did you come to decide it should be a documentary over a narrative film? Why did you make that change?

Lee: Because it was a dumb idea when I wrote that letter to do it as a fictional account. It had to be a documentary. I didn’t want actors recreating the stuff. I wanted the parents, the mothers, the fathers, the sisters, the brothers. I wanted documents of them. I did not want this to be actors doing this. I wanted this to be a documentary.

THR: 4 Little Girls was your first documentary. It must have felt like a huge undertaking.

Lee: Documentary is storytelling. So I don’t really, to be honest, have a different mindset between my narrative and my documentary filmmaking. It’s about storytelling.



Author: arohde

First-time blogger; full-time student

3 thoughts on “4 Little Girls: Initial Impressions Thread”

  1. This was really interesting and I’m happy you posted it here, @arohde16. It’s also funny to see that he thought the interview with George Wallace was surreal as well, and that his searching to learn the story of these 4 little girls led to him find a distant family member.


  2. I loved what Lee did with this documentary. I am really glad he decided to make a documentary instead of a narrative interpretation of it, not only would that be very risky/hard to pull off well, there is something to be said about listening to these parents first hand account of this tragedy, of friends and family talk about their loss, as well as seeing archival footage of the girls in the morgue and of Dynamite Bob, George Wallace, the police/Bull Connor; it is all just so real watching this way that there is no way it won’t churn your stomach. Sure, a compelling narrative with loosely based character development could have attached the audience to these girls before showing the bombing but that is not necessary, what Lee did was powerful and moving and in my opinion made it so much more visceral.


  3. It’s always interesting to me when we watch a film and read interpretations from the director because the interpretation of the audience and the creator can be different, yet equally valid since intent does not translate to impact. Looking at this interview, I feel as though Lee is reaffirming how I imagined he would mindfully handle the content of the film, especially when it comes to the post-mortem photographs of the four little girls. Because the photographs were incredibly gruesome, I thought about the ethical boundaries of whether he has a right to share these images. However, I found the use successful since Lee didn’t focalize on the images and used them tastefully through short bursts preserved the integrity of the four little girls. I’ve been thinking about Lee’s perspective in adding those shots, so it’s cool that I found that out through this interview. Thanks!


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