Shout out to @dfregia @nisaajay and @ireesdeelia for the discussion a couple of weeks ago; would not have thought of this post without your help! So my group and I discussed the power of the gun in Chiraq (here’s a link to that discussion). In the end, we agreed that firearms represented the crux of the conflict in the film, characterized by Father Corridan during his sermon in the beginning of the film. To highlight this conclusion, I would like to point to some of the cinematography within that sequence that helped bring us to that conclusion.
During his sermon for Patty, Corridan holds a gun up to the congregation, indicating it as the true source of the modern day warzone that is Chicago. At one point, he holds the gun like this:
Notice Corridan’s hand in this shot: he dangles the pistol from the end of his index finger, causing his hand to become shaped like a gun. With sunlight streaming through the stained-glass windows of the church, he tells his listeners that Chicago gangs buy the guns for big money, “for their work.” He then tosses the gun down on the podium without altering his “finger-gun” in the process. And who is Corridan pointing his imaginary weapon towards? The congregation itself: the grieving citizens of Chiraq that are seeking consolation and answers for the current state of their war-torn home.
Although this is a small moment in a lengthy and very powerful sermon, it represents Lee’s incredible attention to symbolism and filmic detail as he not only singles out the primary bringer of death in Chicago, but personifies it as the antagonist of the film. It’s small moments like these that lay beneath the sex and “satire” of the film’s aesthetic; hiding in plain sight and begging to be considered — or rather, challenged — by the viewer.
Lee is literally preaching the truth.