From Spike Lee's MasterClass

Speaking Truth to Power: On the Waterfront

Breaking down the director’s choices in one of his favorite films, Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront, Spike demonstrates how cinema can be a powerful tool for speaking the truth.

Topics include: Film as a Powerful Tool for Truth • Every Choice Drives the Storytelling • A Classic Film’s Relevance to the Contemporary

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Breaking down the director’s choices in one of his favorite films, Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront, Spike demonstrates how cinema can be a powerful tool for speaking the truth.

Topics include: Film as a Powerful Tool for Truth • Every Choice Drives the Storytelling • A Classic Film’s Relevance to the Contemporary

Spike Lee

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Spike Lee didn’t just direct his award-winning 1986 feature debut, She’s Gotta Have It. He was also the writer, star, truck driver, location scout, electrician, and caterer, because that’s what it took to get his film made. In his first-ever online directing class, the visionary behind Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, and 25th Hour lets you in on his uncompromising approach to filmmaking. Learn about writing, self-producing, working with actors, and making movies that break barriers.

Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Spike Lee is a Master! Not only did I learn film techniques, but the power of film for change.

Loved It! Spike Lee conveys his knowledge and wisdom in a dynamic way that keeps you entertained.

This class was everything I expected and more, I only . wish it was longer. There is so much of Spike's work that was so profound that I wanted him to speak on. I was hoping there would be a whole video just on the dolly shots lol but I loved it. I am about to start from the beginning again!

I'm learning to trust my instincts more, and I'm glad I took a chance and signed up to classes with Spike Lee.

Comments

A fellow student

A Walk to Remember is one of my all time favorite movies. I know it’s not exactly a classic, but it means a lot to me as a writer.

Michael B.

His enthusiasm is like the epitome of that... the freedom to express his opinion. And the beauty of it is that everyone can still live their lives, because nothing major is happening but a work of art. That's American, because of our values written in the Constitution.

Michael B.

love his enthusiasm... everyone in the world is entitled to have their own opinion and to have the freedom of speech to express that opinion. No one would care as much, perhaps, if Colin was just using the bathroom during the national anthem, because he really had to go. It was because of the idea behind what he did. Right or wrong, maybe it isn't worth it to punish someone with no opportunities for work just for expressing their opinion in a harmless protest, an opinion that was moving them so forcefully internally.

Justin W.

Yo... I agree 100% with what Spike is saying here but... what does Kaep's story have to do with making films? If he spoke about how he would turn Kaep's story into a film and how he would structure that, great, cool, useful. But just comparing it to On The Waterfront? Not that useful. (On The Waterfront, btw, was Elia Kazan's cinematic justification for turning the Group Theatre members into HUAC - a great film, but its whole "truth to power" thing is bullshit when you know that)

Michael U.

Because Spike Lee is a fan of Elia Kazan I would love for him to do an updated version of "A Face in the Crowd".

Philip C.

Go Spike! A perfect example of how a story can be timeless and relevant decades beyond its making.

Puck

Use your platform boy.....that’s what I luv about this man....always screaming and teaching.....”how to speak truth to power”.....I pledge to follow these lessons 🥇

Louise J.

love 'On the Waterfront" when Marlon Brando says "i could have been a contender" and Leonard Bernstein's music is there in the background not too loud so the scene between him and his brother is so heartbreaking- "You're my brother you should have looked after me" Thanks so much Spike Lee!! Love your films and extreme respect!! Your classes are so amazingly inspiring!

Kathy M.

I believe it's important to speak truth to power. The truth in this scene was that the worker excelled at his job, and was passed up because of his convictions . Kapernick had been demoted to second string and was at risk of being traded, before he first took a knee . The fact is he can throw a beautiful long pass, but they have to connect at a higher percentage.

Cliniquka M.

Wow! Art meets life! I felt and understood everything you said in this lesson, Mr. Lee. Powerful stuff.