4 Little GirlsDirector: Spike Lee, Helen Pegues, Bill Cosby, Walter Cronkite
Director Spike Lee made his first feature-length documentary with this powerful story of the bombing of an African-American church in Birmingham, AL, in 1963, which took the lives of four girls, ages 11 through 14. The shocking incident received national press attention and became a rallying point in the ongoing struggle for civil rights, but while Lee's film examines the crime, the perpetrators, and the long struggle to bring them to justice, it also offers a close look at the four girls themselves as their friends and families recall, in moving detail, who they were and how they lived. A variety of civil rights activists, politicians, journalists, and lawyers are interviewed onscreen, including Walter Cronkite and a brief but disturbing meeting with former Alabama governor George Wallace.
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- Hbo Home Video
Cast & Crew
|Terence Blanchard||Score Composer|
|Michele Forman||Associate Producer|
|Sheila Nevins||Executive Producer|
|Rolf Pardula||Sound/Sound Designer|
|J.T. Takagi||Sound/Sound Designer|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Director, Spike Lee, was determined to not let these girls be faceless victims he wanted us to learn as much as possible about each of them. The girls and their ages were: Denise McNair, 11, Addie Mae Collins, 14, Cynthia Wesley, 14, and Carole Robertson, 14. Lee could have made a movie that described the events and put them in historical perspective of the civil rights movement. This is how documentaries were made in the past. It's not widely known that today's documentaries have changed. Many top directors are experimenting with this medium, and they're revolutionizing it. Here, Lee has made a very personal film, and we get to know each participant as the person they were at the time and the person they are now. We do so mostly through interviews. Lee talks to one person at a time, and frames them in such closeup, the tops of their heads are frequently cut from the shot. It's very intimate. As you get to know each person, you feel as if you can reach out and feel the sorrow they endured. This is not a sorrowful film, however. The tone is nostalgic, as each person wistfully remembers something different about their deceased daughter, sister, or friend. As they say, time heals all wounds, and these families have had 24 years to grieve. They cherish the memories they have, and they want to share them with us. I don't really know why Lee interviewed Bill Cosby (he doesn't say much that any of us couldn't have said), but the rest of his choices (including Wallace) are impeccable. We listen to the deep sadness of Chris McNair (father of Denise) remembering Denise's first encounter with racism, or the resigned grace of Alpha Robertson (mother of Carole) renouncing any hatred of the man who killed her daughter, and we may wonder if we would have the strength to endure what they did. And such activists as Andrew Young and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth are living history texts illuminating the fear and loathing (and hope) of the era. As we learn about the girls, we also learn about the events that led to the bombing. These events are critical in understanding why the church was bombed and in realizing the girls did not die in vain. They died tragically and senselessly, but their deaths were a wake-up call to America. They became martyrs. "4 Little Girls" is a movie experience that everyone should see.