Clint Eastwood and Spike Lee at Odds

This is such a “he said, he said” story. Eastwood defended himself against what Spike Lee said at the Cannes film fest by saying Lee should “shut his face.” Lee and Eastwood currently represent absolute opposites in terms of industry acceptance. Lee is way on the outside, Eastwood way on the inside. Is it any wonder they would clash? The rest from the BBC:

“The story is Flags of Our Fathers, the famous flag-raising picture, and they didn’t do that,” he told the Guardian. “It’s not accurate.”

Eastwood added that he would not compromise the facts with future projects.

Spike Lee

Spike Lee’s latest film follows black soldiers in World War II

“I’m not in that game. I’m playing it the way I read it historically, and that’s the way it is,” he said.

“When I do a picture and it’s 90% black, like Bird, I use 90% black people,” said Eastwood, referring to his 1998 film about jazz musician Charlie “Bird” Parker.

His next project, The Human Factor, will look at post-apartheid South Africa: “I’m not going to make Nelson Mandela a white guy,” he joked.

Lee’s forthcoming film, The Miracle at St Anna, shows the contribution made by African-American troops in Italy during World War II.

Accent Watch: Eastwood is also making The Human Factor, btw, will feature Matt Damon doing a South African accent (thanks S.T.!)

  • S.T. Stevens

    Three cheers to Clint Eastwood. I’ve been saying Spike Lee should shut his face for years, it’s nice to see somebody with Eastwood’s stature do it. For someone whose films speak volumes, you’d think Lee would know by now that all he does by flapping his mouth is detract from the very goals he is trying to achieve in civil rights. All he does is turn people off whenever he unleashes another stupid, inflammatory comment.

    And Sasha, I believe the South African accented Matt Damon will actually be seen in The Human Factor, not Miracle of St. Anna.

  • Twinzin

    Spike isn’t considered a token and people think that’s a bad thing. Clint is right and wrong. Both of the guys have huges ego’s.

  • Can’t wait to hear Damon’s accent, hope it is not as cringe worthy as Leo DiCaprio’s in “Blood Diamond.”

  • And Spike plays the plantation card:

    (thanks to the divine Ms. Dorothy Porker for the heads up)

  • yvette

    Spike Lee needs to get over it. His black/white thing is old and boring.

  • Christheking

    Although a fan of most of Eastwoods films, wasn’t’ a fan of FOOF. (Cue the controversial remarks. Why I don’t know. This generation should be as subject to objectivity as any other) Frankly, it’s the same re-hashed American WWII Fantasy that has been perpetuated by a generation that wants to idealize their parents. “The Greatest Generation”?? Come on, this is the generation that also came home-segregated the country like never before by creating “white-flight” to the suburbs and created one of the worst era’s of parentiing that sent their children into a free-fall once they realized the “fairy-tale” world they had been raised in was a lie. An entire generation of people that insisted on creating a fantasy world and inhabiting it and forcing anyone else out that wouldn’t play along.
    I would love to see a film that tells of the horrors of WWII without the sentimentality. Does anyone forget that we didn’t get into WWII for honorable reasons? The US knew what the Nazi’s were doing. But we stood by and did nothing until it came home.
    So while I honor those that fought-it’s time to end the fairy tale that somehow EVERYONE involved in that war was a hero-and that EVERYONE had honorable intentions. Most men, including my grandfather-signed up because he couldn’t find a job and had no other way of feeding his kids.
    So I’m afraid I’m going to have to side with Spike on this one.
    Don’t get me wrong-Spike definitely has his moments of “All Black People are Good-and All White people are Evil” in some of his films. But Eastwood not acknowledging it when he’d been informed is kind of like the tv show Friends-The middle of New York City-and NO black people around. Come on.

  • alynch

    You know, I keep hearing these criticisms and I just can’t get over the fact that the central premise of this controversy is completely wrong. There WERE black soldiers in Flags of Our Fathers. They weren’t prominently featured and didn’t have any lines, but they were featured on camera. Their presence was acknowledged.

  • Jkupfe

    I’ve been reading this site for a long time, but have only posted a few times. People keep saying that Leo’s South African accent in Blood Diamond was terrible. It wasn’t suppose to be South African, he very adamantly said he was ‘Rhodesian’ which as you all know, is modern Zimbabwe. I had a friend who grew up in Zimbabwe and she was quite impressed with Leo’s accent. I didn’t like that movie, or Leo in that role (but he was excellent in The Departed).

    Christtheking, you got it all right!

  • Sasha Stone

    Yes, thanks for the correction, S.T.

  • Max

    Forget black or white, the real crime of Flags of Our Fathers was Native American…

  • Greg

    Also, Flags of Our Fathers focuses significantly on Ira Hayes. Oh he’s not black so that doesn’t count.

  • Zed & No Noughts

    Chris, your comments are so spectacularly wrong that they can’t go by without a rebuttal. First of all you set up a straw man argument about Flags of Our Fathers. You say ‘it’s the same re-hashed American WWII Fantasy that has been perpetuated by a generation that wants to idealize their parents.’ This is a wrong, unfair & very, very glib remark. The courage required of any man to set foot on Iwo Jima made him a hero. That isn’t hyperbole but a simple acknowledgment of the incredible bravery those young men demonstrated. What you think the so called ‘Greatest Generation’ did, or did not do, on their return home, is completely irrelevant to the film Eastwood made.

    Because Flags, far from idealizing the men, shows them as they were – not as warriors but as ordinary, unremarkable kids from across America. Rather than building up the Greatest Generation it actually fosters a better understanding of the myths surrounding one of the most famous photographs of WW2. It is, in effect, about the gap between combat myth & combat reality. A rueful, melancholy ache hangs over that film like a shroud – as it does its companion piece Letters from Iwo Jima. As a target for Greatest Generation myth-making I’m afraid you’ve picked entirely the wrong film (it isn’t sentimental, either).

    >>So I’m afraid I’m going to have to side with Spike on this one.
    Don’t get me wrong-Spike definitely has his moments of “All Black People are Good-and All White people are Evil” in some of his films. But Eastwood not acknowledging it when he’d been informed is kind of like the tv show Friends-The middle of New York City-and NO black people around. Come on.

    Oh, I’m coming! The thing is that Lee criticized Eastwood for not showing black soldiers in his movie when in fact Eastwood DID show black soldiers. Also, since the film is a drama about the flag raisers, at which there were no black soldiers present at the raising, is he implying that Eastwood should rewrite history & show some? Hold on, I thought that’s what he was accusing Eastwood of doing! All this really does raise the question of whether Spike Lee has even watched Flags of Our Fathers. The suspicion is that rather than trying to make a serious comment about race Lee is trying to provoke a controversy in order to drum up publicity for his own upcoming movie about black soldiers during WW2. After all why else would he make these comments several years after Flags came out?

    It’s bad enough that Lee tries to whip up controversy on the back of another movie, that he gets his facts wrong, & then implies that Eastwood – one of the most colorblind directors in America – is a racist is just a spectacular own goal for Spike Lee. He really should take Eastwood’s advice & ‘shut his face’ because he evidently hasn’t the slightest idea what he’s talking about.

  • alynch

    Okay, I finally got annoyed enough by all the stories being written about this “controversy” that I actually made a screencap from “Flags of Our Fathers” that features, get this, Black Soldiers!

  • Zed & No Noughts


    FINALLY! Thank you.

    Now somebody show this to Spike Lee & ask him if he knows which film it’s from.

  • I love Spike’s films but I would have told him to shut his face too. It seems Spike is only concerned with addressing the issue of race HIS way as opposed to er…the way history actually unfolded. Besides Eastwood is just the wrong director to mess with when it comes to race.

    Why are people bashing Leo’s accent? I lived in Africa until I was 15 years old and Leo had a pretty dead on Zimbabwean accent to me. Even the scene when he was speaking in West African dialect with some of the soldiers was pretty impressive.

  • RichardA

    I think the Leo accent response is just the nature of acting with an accent. Even if he did it right, it is just weird coming out of his mouth because we sorta know how Leo sounds like and that’s what not we expected. They could have done a rewrite and made his character to be an American who just ended up in Africa.

    My favorite acting with accent is Toni Collette in Sixth Sense. Amber Cornish doing an American accent in Stoploss was not good.

  • I’m glad Clint Eastwood spoke out; he’s right. The story he was telling wasn’t about the African American troops. That’s NOT to say that they didn’t exist, they were featured. Could he have made more out of it? Maybe??? However, he’s a master at his craft; clearly he doesn’t take things lightly. The story “Flags of Our Fathers” was telling was not about the black troops; Spike’s film is. Leave it at that.

    If we’re talking about accents, just watch Cate Blanchett in ANY film; she’s a genius!


  • That’s great, alynch. I guess Spike went to the bathroom during that scene.

    Spike Lee’s a terrific director whose films are so ambitious they tend to either be superb or disastrous.

    I think most of this is motivated by his desire to get back into the public eye, and he probably hopes he can extend this controversy all the way to October when his movie is released.

  • S.T. Stevens

    “I would love to see a film that tells of the horrors of WWII without the sentimentality. Does anyone forget that we didn’t get into WWII for honorable reasons? The US knew what the Nazi’s were doing. But we stood by and did nothing until it came home.”

    Ever heard of a little film called Letters from Iwo Jima, directed by (gasp!) Clint Eastwood?

  • This whole thing isn’t that interesting, honestly.

    BUT, I do feel the need to remind everyone that Clint is not above unfairly attacking films for their subject matter and filmmakers for their storytelling techniques. Remember his criticism of Lord of the Rings? He basically demeaned Peter Jackson’s achievement, claiming the film’s special effects negated its worth as a drama.

    If Eastwood gets to mouth off about special effects in a FANTASY film, then Spike’s got every right to mouth off about the “presence of an absence,” however tenuous. Doesn’t make him right, but it is a part of the dialogue of the artistic community.

  • Dave

    I do feel for Spike Lee. I think its hard to be in that industry and grow up witnessing the kind of racism that existed from way back when. I think he is true to a certain extent though I would not have picked only on FOOF. What about saving private ryan? Steven Spielberg hardly has any black actors in any of his films (though he made Amistad which is about slavery). I would like to have seen clint eastwood at least acknowledge that what spike lee said has some truth in it. You can’t deny it. But I do think that spike lee does come across as an angry african american man. Maybe he has a reason to be that way? Who knows? Everyone’s life is a story and to shut them off to a corner without knowing their entire story is not quite right. All we can hope to have at times like this is a little bit of empathy. I also think that the media has a big part in blowing this up and setting it up the same way as they did for the Rev. Wright thing. Everyone brands Wright a racist and what have you but no such thing about McCain’s priest. What’s the difference between the two? Nothing. One’s black, one’s white. One has reason to be angry. The other has no reason to spew such hatred.
    I guess the whole point I’m trying to make is that a lot of folk get defensive when they hear things like what spike said. Its delusional for anyone to think that racism is non-existent.

  • Sally in Chicago

    Well I side with Chris on this one issue: The boys who returned from WWII were the old geezers who were responsible for segregation, fled to the suburbs leaving the cities behind with working class/poor blacks, but somehow they managed to hold onto key city and government jobs while denying blacks rights to the jobs. These are the same geezers who won’t vote for a Black man (obama)….I work with some of these geezers in the university system and they don’t like the Chinese students coming to study in the U.S. either. They “tolerate” them people….just like they “tolerate” black people….but getting to the Lee-Eastwood “feud”….Spike always manages to get “controversial” to bring attention to HIS movie.

    Yeh Spike is angry….but he’s still able to make pictures more than any other black director so he should feel blessed.

  • Sally in Chicago

    Speaking about white directors not having black actors….the WORST is Woody Allen who managed to live in NYC all his life and not notice the changing ethnic scenery around him.

  • Personally, I feel bad for the gays. I mean, these poor people can’t get married, don’t have the same rights as everyone else, and more often than not, they’re too petrified to come out of the closet for fear that it will ruin their career.

    Oh, wait, this isn’t just a bitch and moan about who has it worse thread? I’m sorry, my mistake…

    I’m sure there were some homosexuals who served in WWII. I mean, it’s not a new thing. Where were they?


  • David

    and we all know that Sasha would be on Team Clint… she’s such a sucker for Oscar winners and nominees…. that’s how she makes her Oscar “predictions” — based on how many Nominations and Wins the actors/directors/writers/producers of a particular movie have earned and NOT on the quality of the movie. e.g. – CWW!

  • ed

    Spike lee is a liar, a big liar.In Flags of our fathers appears some black men.exactly in dvd:minute:15.seconds:55.You ca see it.There are 5 black actors in the scene.but the worst is that Spike lee is a envious, a big big envious.Spike envy that Clint eastwood will direct a Nelson Mandela`s film with Morgan Freeman, and envy that Clint Eastwood directed Bird with Forest Whitaker a few years ago, because Spike lee wanted direct a film about Charlie Parker.When Clint Eastwood directed Bird, Spike criticed Eastwood, and now Spike lee criticise Eastwood too for have free publicity for his new belic film.spike please don’t be liar.spike please don’t be envious.Clint,we are with you, and I hope you’ll win the oscars for best picture and best director for Changeling, and the oscar for best actor for Gran Torino.

  • defender of the race

    a bunch of white guys raised that u.s.a. flag at iwo jima and that flag-raising represented the re-assertion of white supremacy in asia which began with teddy roosevelt’s great white fleet going all through asia to BULLY PULPIT the whole area into submission and consider that without african-american support the u.s.a. would never have won any war anywhere because without black-only slavery there never would have been a u.s.a. at all amen? so spike lee is right-on in that Eastwood should have indicated in his film SOMEHOW the fact that african-american participation in the u.s.a.’s wars was ESSENTIAL for victory – consider crispus attucks an african-american who was the 1st casualty in the war for independence amen?

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