Entertainment » Movies


by Greg Vellante
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Mar 27, 2020

At the turn of the new millennium, filmmaker Spike Lee turned his eye toward the history and trajectory of American pop culture and the racism instilled within it. His 2000 film "Bamboozled" features a finale that reminded me of his most recent film, 2018's "BlacKkKlansman." Both films end on somber notes that showcase actual historical footage that's most disturbing in how recent its portrayals are. Where his most recent work combined footage of modern day white supremacist rallies and the current U.S. leader who openly claimed there are good people "on both sides," "Bamboozled" ends with a lengthy collection of blackface and racist caricatures seen within entertainment during the 20th century. It's damning, to say the least - perhaps now more than ever, two decades after the film's initial release.

Just as Lee's "Do the Right Thing" remains as timely as ever regardless of the era we're living in, "Bamboozled" feels equally so. The film follows a television writer named Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans), who figures out a way to fix his network's low ratings by introducing blackface to a new generation of audiences with "The New Millennium Minstrel Show." The white network executives love it. The white audiences love it. Hell, even many members of the black demographic are fans. The film is a bizarre satire, saturated with cultural importance that's uniform in what it laments, what it presents and ultimately, what it predicts. It's unapologetic. It's raw. It's provocative. It gets up in your face and screams, "How do you feel about this, motherfucker?" And it never settles for easy answers, either.

Rightfully so, "Bamboozled" has been revitalized in a new 2K digital restoration by The Criterion Collection, which was supervised by the film's director of photography Ellen Kuras and approved by Lee. Notable bonus features on this special release include an audio commentary from 2001 with Lee, a new conversation between Lee and film programmer/critic, Ashley Clark, new interviews and more. The entire lineup of supplemental material includes:

• New interviews with choreographer and actor Savion Glover, actor Tommy Davidson, and costume designer Ruth E. Carter
• "On Blackface and the Minstrel Show," a new interview program featuring film and media scholar Racquel Gates
• 'The Making of "Bamboozled"' (2001), a documentary featuring Lee; Glover; Davidson; actors Jada Pinkett Smith, Michael Rapaport, and Damon Wayans; and other members of the cast and crew
• Deleted scenes, music videos for the Mau Maus' "Blak Iz Blak" and Gerald Levert's "Dream with No Love," and alternate parody commercials created for the film
• Poster gallery and trailer
• An essay by Ashley Clark

Note that all Criterion releases are currently discounted due to the coronavirus pandemic, making now a better time than ever to take home Spike Lee's seminal work.

The Criterion Collection Blu-ray


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