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25TH HOUR

About The Production
For Spike Lee, filmmaking is a truly collaborative process. "For me, I have to give my crew the same respect and time as I do the actors,” says Lee. "Cinematography, costume design, production design, music, editing – it's all part of the filmmaking process.” 

Many key members of his crew – including musician Terrence Blanchard, costume designer Sandra Hernandez, editor Barry Alexander Brown – follow him from project to project. When they're not available, he is able to command some of the best up-and-coming artists working – such as "25th Hour” director of photography Rodrigo Prieto, A.S.C., A.M.C., who had previously filmed the Academy Award®-nominated film, "Amores Perros,” and has gone on to shoot the critically acclaimed films "Frida” and "8 Mile.” 

Lee called on Prieto to create a look that was both classic and forward-looking. "Anytime I work with a cinematographer, we always try to do something different. It was a joy to work with him. He's not jaded, so he was very open to suggestions. He also had ideas that I had never thought of. We worked well together - we meshed. I think that the way the film looks reflects that too.” 

Lee's perceptive use of music is one of the signature elements of his work. Since "Jungle Fever,” composer Terence Blanchard has been his primary musical collaborator. "In ‘Mo' Better Blues,' when you hear Denzel playing, that's Terence. Music is important in this film – maybe more important than any of my films since ‘Mo' Better Blues' – because there are long stretches in the script where I knew that music would have to support the drama.” 
Blanchard's score was recorded in London using a team of 80 musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Symphonic Orchestra. 

The story's 24-hour time frame presented a particular creative challenge for costume designer Sandra Hernandez. "Before selecting the costumes, I asked myself, ‘How much do I love this costume?' The actors have to wear the same things for the entire film.” For the majority of the film, the costumes are monochromatic colors of greys, tan, blacks and blues, but Hernandez got to play with more vibrant colors in the flash forward sequence that presents an alternative outcome for Monty's life. 

Lee credits casting director Aisha Coley, who he has worked with several times, as being "very instrumental in helping to cast the film with the best people possible. She's the one who suggested Anna, who is amazing in the film. That's what a casting director is supposed to do, because it's impossible for a director to know everyone out there. 

The film was shot on location in the five boroughs of New York City – Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx and Manhattan – and captures a city, like Monty, dealing with a difficult situation. "New York City has always been an important character in my films,” says Spike Lee. "It's even more so in this film. People ask me what ‘25th Hour' is about, and I say, ‘Edward Norton plays a drug dealer who spends his last 24 hours of freedom in a post-9/11 New York City.' 

"Even though the novel and the screenplay were written before September 11th, we knew it had to be included in the film,” adds Lee. "We felt that we would be irresponsible artists if we shot this film in New York City and people were walking around like 9/11 never happened. We put it into the screenplay, and it became an element that was incorporated through cinematography and some dialogue.

"When you watch this film, you see that it's definitely a post-9/11 New York City,” Lee continues. "We didn't have the mentality that we couldn't talk about it. This was something that happened, and I think it should be acknowledged.” 

"There is a picture window that overlooks the Ground Zero site. I could see the entire site with all of the bulldozers and men working and it was all lit up,” remembers

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