AFI Movie Club: 25TH HOUR
Following one man during his final 24 hours of freedom, 25TH HOUR was written by David Benioff and directed by AFI Honorary Degree recipient Spike Lee.
Watch director Spike Lee on being an artist:
Movie Trivia about TODAY’S FILM
DID YOU KNOW? 25TH HOUR is based on a novel by David Benioff, who also adapted his story for the screen. Actor Tobey Maguire optioned the film rights with the hope of playing the role of Monty. Although the part went to Edward Norton when Maguire joined the SPIDER-MAN franchise, Maguire still served as a producer on the project.
DID YOU KNOW? 25TH HOUR was released in 2002, one year after 9/11. While other filmmakers and studios at the time deleted footage of locations that were decimated by the terrible events of that day, Spike Lee chose to highlight this deep wound in Manhattan’s landscape.
DID YOU KNOW? Monty’s monologue of profanities, in which he admonishes the five boroughs of New York by their corresponding ethnic groups, was initially left out of the script. Director Spike Lee advocated for it to be included – even though Disney was adamantly against it – and he shot the sequence in defiance of the studio.
DID YOU KNOW? Although 25TH HOUR did not receive any Oscar® nominations, many film critics hailed it as an unsung masterpiece, and it was included on several critics’ lists of the greatest films of the decade.
DID YOU KNOW? Terence Blanchard, a longtime collaborator of Spike Lee’s, was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in the category of Best Original Score – Motion Picture for 25TH HOUR. In 2018, he received his first Oscar® nomination after scoring another Spike Lee joint, BLACKKKLANSMAN.
Learn more at the AFI Catalog.
The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions
-How does the tragedy of 9/11 impact the characters in this film, which takes place one year after the terrorist attacks on America? Why do you think it was so important to Spike Lee to keep these images in the picture?
-25TH HOUR uses filmmaking techniques – including freeze frames and special lighting – to set the tone for Monty’s last day of freedom. Can you describe any shots or scenes in which you noticed how technical aspects of filmmaking impact how you feel about the characters?
-In the novel “The 25th Hour,” Monty is arrested by four white police officers, but in the movie version, director Spike Lee cast all of the roles with Black actors. He also added a scene that was not in the book, in which the same Black cops taunt Monty about the consequences of imprisonment. They tease that Monty will be locked up in an environment where he will be a minority amongst a populace of people of color. Why do you think Lee wanted the policemen to be Black? What does this tell you about the representation of Black characters in this film and the kind of society the film depicts?
-Do you feel sorry for Monty, and what does this say about your own assumptions when it comes to racial stereotypes?
-Spike Lee is known for his work as a collaborator, but he is also known as one of America’s greatest auteurs. How do you see collaboration at work in 25th HOUR, and, conversely, how do you see Lee conveying his singular, unique vision?
-If you had one day left of freedom, what would you do? Can you relate to Monty’s final choices?
-How would you rate 25TH HOUR?
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