By Mateo Requejo-Tejada
Director Spike Lee is known for creating films like She’s Gotta Have It, Malcolm X, and BlacKkKlansman, that discuss real world issues by focusing on race relations, poverty, crime and other political issues and depicting them in a powerful and emotional way that fully captivates his audience.
Spike Lee’s newest film, Da 5 Bloods, was also able to create such social commentary by highlighting the unfair treatment of African Americans in the United States, and the effects of America’s war for democracy and freedom in Vietnam. The movie accomplishes this by utilizing great actors, symbolism, irony, immersive cinematography, and an incredible soundtrack.
The film’s plot is told through the experience of four veterans as they return to Vietnam in search of their fallen leader, Stormin’ Norman, played by late Chadwick Boseman, and the gold they buried long ago while they served.
Each of the veterans, played by Isiah Whitlock, Norm Lewis, and Clarke Peters, are all great characters, however Delroy Lindo delivers a brilliant, Oscar worthy performance with his portrayal of the veteran, Paul. Lindo’s character, Paul, is a product of broken promises and a lifetime of mistreatment which has made him ignorant and distrustful of others. In his portrayal Paul serves as an example of black people who have witnessed and experienced far too much pain and as a result have become bitter and hateful. Delroy Lindo’s role as Paul is not the only performance that sticks out in the movie. Chadwick Boseman plays a crucial role in the film as a wise and noble soldier, leader, and teacher.
Boseman’s character also cleverly addresses the irony around fighting in the Vietnam war by arguing that they were fighting in an immoral war to protect rights that not even black people possessed.
Although the acting within Da 5 Bloods effectively draws the attention of the viewers, it is not the only tool used to focus the audience’s attention to the content of the film. Cinematographer, Newton Thomas Sigel uses a hand held camera style of filming the movie in the same way someone might shoot a home video. This style of filming causes shots to have lots of movement which allows the viewer to be pulled into any emotional situation that is taking place within the movie. Sigel uses this method perfectly when a character like Paul becomes erratic, and the camera is shaking or swaying which gives the viewer the sensation that they are present in the film and feeling the character’s anxiety as an intense situation unfolds.
Any film, regardless of the genre, is incomplete without a great soundtrack to set the tone of the movie, and Da 5 Bloods delivers with a selection of music by Marvin Gaye. Towards the climax of the film, Marvin Gaye’s song “What’s Going On” is stripped down so that only Gaye’s voice can be heard singing with a slight echo, giving off a ghostly sound that would send chills down any listener’s spine. The absence of background music forces the listener to closely hear and understand the pleading words that Marvin Gaye is singing, along with leaving the listener feeling of sorrow.Able to entertain and engage the audience, meanwhile delivering social commentary through extraordinary acting, symbolism, immersive cinematography, and and an amazing soundtrack, Spike lee’s newest film, Da 5 Bloods is a must watch.