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When the Levees Broke - A Requiem in Four Acts
     

When the Levees Broke - A Requiem in Four Acts

5.0 1
Director: Spike Lee, Harry Belafonte, Terence Blanchard, Kathleen Blanco

Cast: Spike Lee, Harry Belafonte, Terence Blanchard, Kathleen Blanco

 

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Academy Award-nominated director Spike Lee (the guiding force behind the critically acclaimed documentary 4 Little Girls) turns to nonfiction filmmaking once again with the heart-wrenching marathon work When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, produced by Lee's Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks and originally screened

Overview

Academy Award-nominated director Spike Lee (the guiding force behind the critically acclaimed documentary 4 Little Girls) turns to nonfiction filmmaking once again with the heart-wrenching marathon work When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, produced by Lee's Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks and originally screened on HBO. In four "acts" of approximately one hour each, Lee examines the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the late summer of 2005 and the incorrigible response to the catastrophe from U.S. government agencies. The filmmaker then evaluates the overwhelming measures that must be taken for the area to rebound and recover fully, demonstrating time and again that this seems an unlikely prospect in the immediate future. Act One covers the events that immediately preceded Katrina's onslaught of horror, with an in-depth exploration of the Bush administration and FEMA's joint failures to understand the potential calamity at hand. Lee picks up this subtopic again and makes it the central focus of Act Two, which expands into a dissection of the government agencies' failure to respond to the crisis with adequate measures; time and again, the director fills his frame, in this segment, with images and indications of naked human indifference. Act Three plunges headfirst into the toll taken by the hurricane on the lives of Louisiana residents, with protracted glimpses of the destruction wrought. And finally, the film wraps with Act Four, where Lee conducts more recent interviews with experts who question the soundness of the New Orleans levee system in the face of future catastrophes. A number of celebrities and public figures also appear on camera to provide commentary throughout the work, including New Orleans mayor Roy Nagin, actor, singer and social activist Harry Belafonte, and actor Sean Penn.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Donald Liebenson
Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke is a television milestone that ranks with Edward R. Murrow's Harvest of Shame as an unflinching document of a national disgrace. Over the course of four hour-long "acts" (plus, for this DVD, a newly filmed fifth act), Lee chronicles the devastation wrought not just by 2005's Hurricane Katrina but also by ill-prepared, inefficient, and seemingly indifferent federal, state, and local officials, who fiddled while New Orleans drowned. As Lee rightly surmised, when trying to wrap one's mind around the enormity of the Katrina disaster and its aftermath, sound bites on the evening news and partisan sniping on talk shows just wouldn't hold water. He meticulously compiled news footage and conducted interviews with residents, politicians, and volunteers; the raw footage of citizens railing at the heavens for someone, anyone, to hear them and help them is especially affecting. There is plenty of blame to go around, according to Lee: There's FEMA director Michael Brown on CNN, professing ignorance that thousands were living like refugees inside the Superdome. There's Condoleezza Rice shoe-shopping and taking in Spam-a-Lot on Broadway while 80 percent of New Orleans was under water. And there's President Bush praising Brown with "You're doing a heck of a job," an infamous quote Lee can't resist playing back three times for its outrage value. Lee's voice can be heard off camera during interviews, but he does not inject himself into the proceedings à la Michael Moore. From bickering politicians to thugs and looters, no one is spared in Lee's scathing critique. "Usually disasters bring out the best in people," someone observes, "this brought out the worst." But there are heroes here, ordinary citizens and workers whose acts of kindness and bravery are a testament to New Orleans' indomitable spirit. When the Levees Broke is painful to watch, but it is essential viewing.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/13/2016
UPC:
0888574444242
Original Release:
2006
Source:
Hbo Archives
Sales rank:
15,968

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When the Levees Broke - A Requiem in Four Acts 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago