Chi-Raq: Spike Lee's Modern Retelling of a Greek Classic
Spike Lee's Chi-Raq is a movie that I've been looking forward to for a long time and with movies/media like that I purposely keep myself in the dark but when I found out that IMDB had released the trailer for the film, I couldn't help but watch it. And honestly, all I knew was that it was going to take place in Chicago but after finding out that it's a modern retelling of the Greek story, Lysistrata, I felt more anticipation for the movie than I already did.
I've been a fan of Lee for most of my life and I find that most, if not all, of his movies are thought-provoking and moving. And I don't expect any less from his latest film. It's clear that Lee is a very intelligent person with a mind that moves in a way that most minds do not. By using Lysistrata as a frame, he can successfully address some larger issues.
The original story of Lysistrata is about the titular character who comes up with a strategy to end the Peloponnesian War. She rallies the women of Greece to stop sleeping with their husbands until they can all agree to stop fighting. Lee's new Lysistrata is played by Teyonah Parris, who previously starred in Dear White People (another movie that is thoughtful and intelligent) and her presence on screen is undeniably strong, smart, and charismatic. Her performance, even in the trailer, is mesmerizing and I really can't wait to watch the full feature.
Cast aside, some of the images in the trailer (and of course the movie) are so awe-inspiring. They're striking and it really reminds us of Lee's skill as a director. Sometimes, I think it's easy to forget Spike Lee's filmography but it's important to remember that he's been around for a long time. He knows what will work and how that'll affect the audience.
For example, look at the screenshot above. We have women dressed up in fatigues. Five of them, on stage, standing in front of an American flag. And during this moment in the trailer, they're organizing and empowering the other women in the community. It might seem like something that is "just cool" but the implication of the imagery is what makes it amazing.
We have 5 women of color, inspiring other women of color on screen. I can't think of the last time I saw a group of women of color on a stage (in a movie) where they weren't playing musicians or entertainers. And there's something to be said about this kind of representation. I'd understand if there are some WoC reading this who might have issues with the scene or the way women are represented in the trailer and I'm open to having that conversation (because I want to understand, I don't want to argue).
I honestly cannot wait for this movie to be released. It looks like a return to form for Spike Lee and I know I'll love it. You can watch the trailer on IMDB (it's exclusive to this website for now but as soon as it gets uploaded to YouTube, I'll include it in the card below).
Chi-Raq will be in theaters on December 4th and will be on Amazon Prime soon after that.