Lee, Spike

orig. Shelton Jackson Lee

born March 20, 1957, Atlanta, Ga., U.S.

U.S. film director.

He grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and earned a master's degree in film at New York University. The comedy She's Gotta Have It (1986) brought him attention, but it was Do the Right Thing (1989), a portrait of racial tensions in Brooklyn, that brought him widespread acclaim. Many of his films focused on aspects of African American life, including School Daze (1988), Jungle Fever (1991), Crooklyn (1994), and He Got Game (1998). The epic Malcolm X (1992) and the documentary Four Little Girls (1997) showed Lee's versatility as a director.

* * *

▪ American director
byname of  Shelton Jackson Lee 
born March 20, 1957, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.

      American filmmaker known for his uncompromising, provocative approach to controversial subject matter.

      The son of the jazz composer Bill Lee, he was reared in a middle-class Brooklyn neighbourhood. He majored in communications at Atlanta's Morehouse College, where he directed his first Super-8 films and met his future coproducer, Monty Ross. In 1978 Lee entered New York University's Graduate Film School, where he met another future collaborator, cinematographer Ernest Dickerson. He gained national attention with his master's thesis, the short subject Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads (as he explained at the time, the barbershop “is second only in importance to the church in the black community”), which earned him the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's Student Award.

      Lee's feature film debut was She's Gotta Have It (1986), a prismatic character study about the love life of a contemporary black woman. Establishing a career-long pattern, Lee not only wrote, produced, directed, and edited the film but also played a key supporting role. The film, which was made on a $175,000 budget, was hailed as “Godardesque” at the Cannes Film Festival. His next film, based on his experiences at Morehouse, was School Daze (1988), a scatological satire of colour prejudice, snobbery, and betrayal within the black academic community. The infamous Howard Beach incident, in which a black man was chased and killed by rampaging white youths, was the inspiration for Lee's third feature, Do the Right Thing (1989), an impassioned but evenhanded work that neither blamed any specific group for racial violence nor absolved any from it. Virtually all his subsequent films dealt head-on with issues of race and racism in the United States—with interracial relationships in Jungle Fever (1991) and with the diversity of opinions within the black community in Get on the Bus (1996).

 With the notable exception of his monumental biographical film Malcolm X (1992), many of Lee's later works received mixed reviews. Some observers complained about the excessive length of his films; others criticized his perpetuation of ethnic stereotypes, notably the Jewish characters in Mo' Better Blues (1990) and the Italian Americans in Summer of Sam (1999); while still others condemned his treatment of his female characters. The outspoken Lee cited what he perceived as Hollywood's antiblack bias, noting that, while Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, and his poignant documentary 4 Little Girls (1997) all received Academy Award nominations, he was repeatedly denied an Oscar win.

      Lee's later films include He Got Game (1998), a family drama that is both an exposé of college basketball recruiting practices and paean to the sport, and 25th Hour (2002), which focuses on the last day of freedom for a convicted drug dealer. Inside Man (2006), starring Denzel Washington (Washington, Denzel) and Jodie Foster (Foster, Jodie), centres on the negotiations between the police and the bank robbers engaged in a hostage situation. In 2006 Lee also released the documentary When the Levees Broke, a four-part HBO series outlining the U.S. government's inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina (Katrina, Hurricane). The mystery Miracle at St. Anna (2008) focuses on the experiences of African American soldiers in World War II.

      Many of Lee's films can be classified as family affairs: his father, Bill, contributed music to She's Gotta Have It and Mo' Better Blues, among others; his sister, Joie, played major roles in several productions; and his brother David Charles Lee was the still photographer.

Additional Reading
James S. Haskins, Spike Lee: By Any Means Necessary (1997); Melissa McDaniel, Spike Lee: On His Own Terms (1998).

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lee, Spike — orig. Shelton Jackson Lee (n. 20 mar. 1957, Atlanta, Ga., EE.UU.). Director de cine estadounidense. Se crió en Brooklyn, N.Y., y logró obtener una maestría en cine en la Universidad de Nueva York. Se hizo conocido con su comedia Nola Darling… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Lee, Spike — pseud. di Lee, Shelton Jackson …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • Spike Lee — auf dem Tribeca Film Festival, 2009 Spike Lee, eigentlich: Shelton Jackson Lee, (* 20. März 1957 in Atlanta, Georgia) ist ein US afroamerikanischer Filmregisseur, Drehbuchautor …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Spike Lee — Nombre real Shelton Jackson Lee Nacimiento 20 de marzo de 1957 (54 años) Atlanta, Georgia …   Wikipedia Español

  • Lee — /lee/, n. 1. Ann, 1736 84, British mystic: founder of Shaker sect in U.S. 2. Charles, 1731 82, American Revolutionary general, born in England. 3. Doris Emrick /em rik/, born 1905, U.S. painter. 4. Fitzhugh /fits hyooh / or, often, / yooh ; fits… …   Universalium

  • Lee — Lee, Anna Lee, Nathanael Lee, Robert Edward Lee, Vernon Lee, Yuan Tseh * * * (as used in expressions) Bench, Johnny (Lee) Berners Lee, Tim Chennault, Claire L(ee) De Forest, Lee Frost, Robert (Lee) Glashow, Sheldon Lee …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Lee — Lee, Bruce (1941 73) a Chinese actor, born in the US, who was famous for his skill at ↑kung fu (=an ancient Chinese style of fighting) , and who appeared in films such as Enter the Dragon (1973) Lee 2 Lee, General Rob|ert E. (1807 70) a US… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Spike Lee — Infobox actor name = Spike Lee caption =Spike Lee, 2007 birthname = Shelton Jackson Lee birthdate = birth date and age|1957|3|20 birthplace = Atlanta, Georgia yearsactive = 1977 present spouse = Tonya Lewis (1993 ) baftaawards = Special Award… …   Wikipedia

  • lee — lee1 /lee/, n. 1. protective shelter: The lee of the rock gave us some protection against the storm. 2. the side or part that is sheltered or turned away from the wind: We erected our huts under the lee of the mountain. 3. Chiefly Naut. the… …   Universalium

  • Spike Lee — Données clés Naissance 20 …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.