Wednesday, August 23, 2006

When the Levees Broke: Part II

Acts III and IV where on HBO last night. The second part was not as good as the first part. But I think the weakness was inherit in the story. Let’s face it; politics can get messy and dirt. So when our political structure breaks down basically it’s a he said- she said match and nobody win. And it makes for a pretty weak storyline, too.

Spike tried to keep the emotions in the story, for example when he focused on the many bodies still being found in the houses after Katrina. One story in particular kept me awake last night. I tried to imagine what it would be like to find my mother dead under a refrigerator after four months, when search and rescue was suppose to have checked the house! That’s a true nightmare; one in which you are awake and can’t escape.

One thing I’m wondering about is, after such utter devastation, people still want to go back to New Orleans. WHY? Your house is destroyed, your livelihood is destroyed, and everybody left. I mean I can understand why those who have property would want to stay and give it a try. You’ve invested in a home for 20 years, so walking away is not your first option. But for the thousands who don’t have property, why go back? There is nothing there. New Orleans as they knew it, no longer exist.

I was left last night with the feeling that New Orleans will come back, but it will not be like before. There is going to be some changes, not just in the racial make-up of the city, but in the spirit of the city. New Orleans was a corrupt place (interesting Spike didn’t bring that fact up). and I think now that everything is exposed that corruption can’t happen anymore (or at least at the level pre-Katrina.) Why its so hard to get things done now is because officials can’t operate like the ‘good ol’days’. Those days are over. Welcome to the 21st century, New Orleans!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Interview with Terence Blanchard, Soundtrack Composer for "When the Levees Broke"

Check this out! Here is an interview with Terence Blanchard, Soundtrack Composer for "When the Levees Broke".

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts

Last night I watched the first two acts of Spike Lee's documentary on the Katrina disaster in the 'Big Easy'. First, I liked the fact that Lee let the people who were actually there speak to tell their experience. He didn't overlay the story with an omnipotent narrator to lead you down a winding road of hersay or theories. You were looking in the faces of the victims who were there and had to experience one of the worst preventable disasters in recent American history.

It was befitting to call the documentary a requiem. New Orleans is known for jazz. In this case, the musical setting not only highlighted the plight of the natives but the overall feeling of sadness and foreboding. The score produced by Terence Blanchard, who also was displaced by Katrina, doesn’t overwhelm the movie, but highlights the faces and voices of those affected by this tragedy. It is this sense of tragedy that comes though the music as face after face is shown in despair and frustration. In one part of Act II there are pictures of children alone and wondering through the streets; you can’t help but think of your own children, nieces, or nephews in that horrible situation. You can do nothing but pause as the sublime music carries you to the depths of your soul.

It is a very compelling story of government failure at the highest levels. From the mayor to the president, our government failed at a time when something like should not have happened. Starting with Mayor Ray Nagin, Lee lets him talk and provide his defense concerning his actions from his initial order to evacuate to his meeting during day 5 with President Bush. There is, at a point, an unfair comparison between Nagin and former NYC mayor Gulianni. Based on the events that took place Katrina vs. 9/11 you should have different responses. I agree with Mayor Nagin when he states that 9/11 was a confined disaster while Katrina devastated a whole city. It would be comparable to the whole of Manhattan flooding affecting everybody in the city. Can you imagine a mass evacuation of Manhattan or Washington DC. But having said that I do think a comparison of leadership ability is inevitable. It hard for me to say what Mayor Nagin could or could not have done under those extreme circumstances. But it was obvious from the documentary’s perspective that all government officials had some blame. (Even though I think Lee was easy on the governor.)

I am looking forward to Acts III and IV, tonight. If it is anything like the first two acts it will be convicting. It’s hard to watch and not wonder how could this have happened to us? God have mercy on our souls.