When the Levees Broke - A Requiem In Four Acts (Documentary)
List Price: $19.98

Our Price: $13.97

You Save: $6.01 (30%)

 


Product Description

Studio: Hbo Home Video Release Date: 09/23/2008 Run time: 256 minutes

Director Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke is the definitive document of the unmitigated disaster that was, and is, Hurricane Katrina. It's also a contemporary manifestation of an ancient tradition: an oral history, told by the people who lived it, with no narration and only the occasional use of archival cable and broadcast news footage in addition to Lee's own film. And a grim tale it is, an "American tragedy" subtitled "a Requiem in Four Acts," each of them about an hour long ("Act V," appearing on the third of the set's three discs, is a lengthy epilogue with new material not included in the original HBO broadcast) and focusing almost exclusively on New Orleans, as opposed to the Gulf Coast region in general.

Act I sets the scene; as the hurricane nears the Crescent City, some residents leave town, while others stay behind, figuring they'll just ride the storm out (Mayor Ray Nagin's "mandatory evacuation" order rings fairly hollow, as there's no public transportation provided for the many who don't own vehicles and thus couldn't get out even if they wanted to). The real problems begin after Katrina makes landfall on August 29, 2005. Displaced New Orleaneans crowd into the Superdome, soon to become a living hell for those stuck there; the incredibly poorly engineered levees break, flooding some 80 percent of the city; and people start dying by the hundreds, victims of drowning, lack of food, water, and medicine, and other causes. And so it goes. Act II finds the survivors struggling to keep it together while the federal, state, and local assistance they've been promised fails to show up; Act III traces the dispersal of these so-called "refugees" (as one man puts it, "Refugees? You mean they took away our citizenship, too?") all over the country, not knowing where their families, friends, and neighbors are, or even if they're still alive; and Act IV deals with the slow rebuilding of the city while insurance companies refuse to pay claims and money keeps going toward the Iraq war effort instead.

Several themes predominate here. One, of course, is the appalling performance of authorities on nearly every level, who ignored specific warnings about the levees and then professed ignorance after the fact; Lee doesn't have to go out of his way to make George W. Bush, FEMA chief Michael Brown, and other members of the Bush administration (not to mention his own mother) look bad, as they do an excellent job of that themselves. Another is the shameful ineptitude of the response; it's hard not to be disgusted when it's pointed out more than once that while we were able to provide supplies and assistance to Indonesians within two days of the 2004 tsunami, American citizens were virtually ignored for five days or more. Most of all, When the Levees Broke (which includes optional commentary by Lee for all four acts) leaves us feeling the sheer rage of the poor and dispossessed of New Orleans, where the population is 70 percent African-American. Confronted with the ignorance, arrogance, and callousness of the people whose job it was to protect them, they can point to just one cause: racism. --Sam Graham

Customer Reviews:

  • A necessary addition to my DVD Library!
    I feel such pain every time I watch this documentary account of the devastation caused when Katrina stuck. Anyone who watches this DVD will have a hard time turning a blind eye toward the people whose lives have been forever changed by one of the largest catastrophes the US has known -- I know I never will!...more info
  • SUPERB! DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING AT ITS BEST
    This documentary will break your heart and make you laugh out loud. Not an easy task for any documentary film. This film should be required in all American History, Sociology, U.S. Government, and Political Science courses in colleges, as well as shown in documentary film classes. This is a story told by the people involved - not some mystery `authority' narrator telling you how to analyze the visuals you are seeing. Please see this film -- if you haven't already. This should never have happened in America. If the images of the Katrina victims were not of poor African-Americans, it would never have happened in America....more info
  • One pleased customer!
    Beautifully packaged and arrived on time. Never have I shopped anywhere online and had my product arrive as timely as from Amazon. I'm vere pleased with the content and customer service....more info
  • staggering
    The breadth and depth of this documentary is nothing short of amazing. It's an extraordinary achievement as a film and this DVD is the optimal way to experience it, with a wealth of bonus msterial and a commentary track from Lee that is nearly as worthwhile as the feature itself....more info
  • Katrina Review
    The video was good but did not show enough of the mayor's and the goverments failure to help these poor people. I would like to have seen more footage and less talking. We especially didn't need Reverend Al. He is always there for the photo shoot but has he done anything to help?...more info
  • Spike Lee does it again
    This is an excellent documentry. I didn't feel like I had gotten the full scoop during the actual tragedy, but Spike, as usual, puts the event into perspective. An the seller delivered it right away....more info
  • When the Levees Broke
    This is a superbly done piece on Hurricane Katrina. My hat is off to Spike Lee....more info
  • When the Levees Broke
    I asked our Public Library to order this DVD as I thought it would be a wonderful addition to their collection. After viewing this, I had to purchase it for my own collection. It is a must for all to see. You will see and hear scenes and stories that never made the news. You became involved with these folks and laughed and cried with them as if they were your next door neighbors. I'm glad that Spike Lee has made this documentary because I feel a lot of America has forgotten about New Orleans and their plight to rise again with very little assistance from the powers that be. ...more info
  • A must see
    After a recent trip to New Orleans (Spring 2008) I came back and felt compelled to learn all I could about Katrina and what all of the New Orleans citizens had to suffer through. This documentary does an incredible job articulating that. It's truly a must see. And if you already hate BUSH, you will hate him more....more info
  • Levees
    The documentary was done very well. It provided the perspective of the residents of New Orleans. Spike Lee did an excellent job of revealing all levels of governmental failure with this disaster....more info
  • I still shutter when I watch this movie.
    After I watched this on HBO, I had to own it. The powerful story that is told here is not about propoganda, or agenda, it is about the survival of people who were left behind to fend for themselves; American people.
    I have watched this with several of our youth groups in an attempt to show them that life can be a fragile gift, and that we should never take for granted that we have more of it to spare. At each watching there is never a dry eye in the room. the kids are riveted to the screen. they actually care about not only what happened, but as well what is happening now.
    Spike Lee and company did a fine job on this, and hopefully there is more of the story being recorded.
    My advice to anyone is to "buy this movie!"...more info
  • Thorough, balanced, outstanding
    Lee presents a thorough look at Hurricaine Katrina from all sides in incredible detail. It is long, and ponderous, but it carefully covers the disaster and bungled response.
    ...more info
  • Engineering Perspective
    All seniors in the engineering departments at Oregon State University watched part of this film tonight. This was followed by a presentation from professors and experts about the failings of the government and the Army Corps of Engineers. It was driven home that, as the next generation of engineers, it is our duty to do our jobs with public safety and ethics in mind. There will have to be compromises due to budgets, politics, etc, but in the end, we have to decide how much we are willing to compromise.

    When a lawyer fails, he can argue about it. When a doctor fails, he can bury his mistakes. When an engineer fails, it is on display for the world to see. After watching part of this film, i am purchasing the DVD....more info
  • The Levees Broke and People Died
    Spike Lee struggled a bit before he was motivated to make this film for HBO. His films don't make that much money anymore because he still focuses on people and not special effects. This movie is a documentary that focuses strongly on people but Hurricane Katrina was a horrible catastrophe for the country that this film couldn't be ignored. It is a classic and very well made. If this was the only film Spike Lee ever made, he'd be a great filmmaker but he has more - both fictional films and more documentaries too. Highly recommended. ...more info
  • Should be required viewing for all Government classes
    Diary From The Dome: Reflections on Fear and Privilege During Katrina

    Spike Lee put his heart in to this film (well I guess he always does) but this epic film gives a glimpse of what we endured during Katrina. I thank him and salute him for keeping this issue alive and showing the true anger we had towards our lack of government response. I still want to know why the airport, train station, and bus station all closed 2 days before the storm hit and a day before the mandatory evacuation.

    The pain that these folks feel in the film will endure; so I hope no ever says, "Just get over it."...more info
  • When the levees broke
    This is one of the best works from Spike Lee. He keeps his emotions in check and lets the story unfold. He includes all of the things you never want to forget and provides a references for anything you may forget....more info
  • Spike Lee (The G.O.A.T.)
    WTLB is a great look into N.O. from a cultural standpoint. Spike did a great job as far as that goes and he got not only the black's perspective on the whole ordeal but whites also. So, good job Spike... Kudos...more info
  • Spike Lee When the leeves broke
    I would highly recommend this documentary piece. I was blown away with the footage, but yet enlightened by the quality of the material. ...more info
  • TRUTH BE TOLD.
    THE TRUTH WAS TOLD IN THIS ONE.FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DONT KNOW THE WHOLE STORY,YOU HAD TO BE THERE LIKE WE WERE.SPIKE LEE DID A GREAT JOB IN THIS DOCUMENTARY.BUT I THINK THE EXPLOSION HEARD IN THE LOWER 9TH WARD WAS THE BARGE BREAKING THROUGH THE LEVEE AND THE WATER RUSHING THROUGH.JUST MY OPINION.WE WATCHED THIS AT MY GIRLFRIENDS COUSIN HOUSE AND I WILL TELL YOU THERE WAS NOT A DRY EYE IN THE ROOM.IT SHOWED WHAT NETWORK TELEVISION WOULDN'T SHOW.THE HORROR.REAL HORROR.I GOT SOME OF MY FAMILY OUT IN MY CAR FROM THE MELPHOMENE PROJECTS UPTOWN JUST AS THE WATER WAS STARTING TO RISE.WE WENT TO GET MY MAMA FROM THE FISCHER PROJECTS ON THE WEST BANK OF NEW ORLEANS WHERE WE LIVED AT THE TIME BUT WE DID NOT HAVE ROOM FOR HER SO SHE MADE A SACRIFICE AND TOLD ME TO TAKE MY CAR AND LEAVE HER BEHIND.SHE TOLD ME TO BE STRONG AND TAKE CARE OF EVERYBODY AND SHE WOULD BE ALRIGHT.IT WAS HARD TO LEAVE HER BUT WE WERE ON THE SAME PAGE.WE ENDED UP AT LAMAR-DIXON EXPO CENTER IN GONZALES ,LA FOR TWO WEEKS.MY MAMA ENDED UP AT A SHELTER IN LAFAYETTE,LA.I ALSO HAD TO COME BACK TO SAVE A STRANDED COUSIN.IN THOSE 2 WEEKS MY FAMILY SPLIT UP.MY SISTER, NEICES AND NEPHEWS WENT TO HOUSTON,MY BIG BROTHER WENT TO LAS VEGAS.IT WAS HARD TO SEE MY FAMILY LEAVE BUT I HAD TO WEAR A POKER FACE FOR A LONG TIME.I WAS THE LAST TO LEAVE BECAUSE I WAS THE ONE WITH A CAR AND MONEY THANKS TO MY JOB AT WALMART.I GOT A HAIRCUT,EMERGENCY FOODSTAMPS AND MY RED CROSS CARD AND ON 09-16-05 I LEFT THE SHELTER AT 4:00PM TO HEAD TO PRESTON,MS.MY GIRL HAD GOTTEN US A 2 BEDROOM APARTMENT IN NEARBY PHILADELPHIA,MS.AS I LEFT LOUISIANA I REALIZED THE FACT THAT I MAY NEVER BE ABLE TO GO HOME AGAIN.I CRIED ALMOST ALL THE WAY TO MERIDIAN,MS ON I-59N.I REFUSED TO GO TO TEXAS AND DEAL WITH THAT DRAMA OF OVERCROWDING AND CRIME.WE AS A PEOPLE SUFFERED.BUT EVERYTHING TURNED OUT OK FOR US.EVERYBODY IS DOING FINE.WE ARE ALL BACK EXCEPT FOR MY BROTHER.HE LOVES LAS VEGAS....more info
  • MUST SEE FOR ANYONE FREE, FOR ANY POLITICAL SCIENTIST, FOR ANY CHRISTIAN, FOR ANY AMERICAN, FOR ANYONE
    This is the production which Spike Lee was born to make, the greatest since he first did School Daze. This is why God made Spike Lee, for us to see this.

    Despite being denied certain important footage (including the famous phoney air-guitar performance in California by US President George W. Bush while the indigent, elderly and infirm of New Orleans drowned in their homes or died of thirst in the stadium), Spike Lee used all of his great talent, experience, insight, wisdom, intelligence, heart and soul in creating this historic collection of the times of death in New Orleans, the heart and soul of these Americas, the birthplace of our American culture, now washed away forever under the poisoned waters of our great greed, purposeful incompetence and solipsistic self-interest.

    Everything possible, nevertheless, is included here, plus some. Please watch this with Mr. Lee's comentary turned on. You will find he could only include half of what was worthy and necessary. For instance we see much of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arriving from Vancouver before our own federales appear, and the BBC, etc., but we do not see the delegation of doctors and other medical personnel from Havana who came only to be turned away for purely political reasons. Yet all that is most important is here, if only as metonymy.

    Mr. Lee's keen insight and courage come through clearly as he guides us through the horror which we do to New Orleans and our own people. This DVD must be seen in its entirety by every student in America, by every church and synogogue and mosque in America, by every government agency in America, if we are to remember who we are as Americans and our national mission. When I was a small boy I remember watching on television our President and commmander-in-chief command us to ask not what America can do for us but what we can do for America. Now we see America sucked dry in our treasure and life's blood by those who ask only what America can do for them, at the cost of billions of dollars a month, and nothing for our American people. Watch this movie, timid as it may be, and cautious, and remember the New Testamenet commandment to care for widows and orphans in their distress as being the practice of perfect and true religion, to care for the sick, and respect the elderly. To bury the dead is a work of mercy. Watch this movie and wonder where was our government who had publicly taken on the care of our people prior to the hurricane. Wonder with the people here whether the levees were dynamited as early in the twentieth century to save wealthier properties. Mr. Lee also raises the probable cause of Mr. Trump desiring choice land for his new casino without the messy and expensive inconvenience of eminent domain as in Bridgeport condemning people's homes for the sake of a private hotel, etc.

    This excellent documentary also illustrates why our shock and awe military involvement in Iraq can never possibly produce the alleged results, as the generals have noted. In this documentary we see a brave and noble and courageous and moral general enter New Orleans days after the administration washed its hands of the affair and left the people to die without food, water, and other essentials of life locked inside the stadium, ordered the soldiers to lower their eapons held against our own citizens, and ordered supplies to come in and the people to be moved out. HE gets good things done, and ought to be in charge of establishing a peaceful and functioning society in Bagdhad, as we allegedly desire. To see him order the soldiers reluctantly to disarm themselves is a blessing from Heaven, and a first step in the right direction towards a peaceful society.

    Watch with attention the examination of the viability of the civil engineering, and the comndemnation of our banking and insurance industries, which mark record profits. Wonder where our society went to. Watch this movie and realize it is real. Then go out and help your neighbor, that destitute person on the street, everyone you meet. We are Americans all.

    Get this film....more info
  • Everyone should own this!!!!!
    This is a must have dvd for everyone's libery. Spike Lee did it again. Showing us the truth. Your heart will be touched deeply. This dvd leaves you with the thought of....... what if this happened to me where I live?...more info
  • Phyllis Montana LeBlanc for President
    Phyllis Montana LeBlanc for President! Or, at least Secretary of Keeping It Real. Ms. LeBlanc, a passionate and articulate victim of the 2005 New Orleans flood, is one of many Big Easy residents who appears in the Spike Lee mega-documentary film WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE. Her commentary proves to be one of many unforgettable aspects of this must-see work.

    Of course, by calling New Orleans residents victims of the August 2005 floodwaters, I oversimplify. As WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE documents, for forty years responsible powers knew the New Orleans levees could not withstand the pressure of a hurricane such as Katrina but did nothing. The Bush administration and FEMA, who knew what was going to happen days in advance of the hurricane, did nothing. And when the storm subsided and people needed rescue, food, and water, the Bush gang and FEMA dragged their feet, allowing preventable death and misery for several days before acting.

    WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE cuts no corners telling its story. About the only lowlight of those tragic summer 2005 days it misses is Laura Bush's telling comment, where she referred to the storm as "Hurricane Corrina" at least twice in the same interview.

    While the illegal, immoral war in Iraq got most of the credit for the fall of the Republicans in the 2006 elections, the federal government's willful disregard for New Orleans had to be on voters' minds, too. As I write this in March 2007, Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco has announced she will not seek re-election because of low poll numbers, so it seems the people are repaying Republican Lite Democrats such as Ms. Blanco, too. WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE closes with the Fats Domino song, "Walking To New Orleans." Another Fats Domino song, "So Long," speaks to the responsible public office holders who knew what could happen but turned a blind eye. May they get theirs.

    See WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE.

    ...more info
  • Looking in the National Mirror
    So many things stand out in this effort and so much can be said.
    First, I agree completely with a short moment in the film that talks about mirrors, how we might not like the feeling looking into one. Be jarred by the reality we then might have to face. I know that feeling in my life, it's utterly difficult. Then it goes on to compare this event in Katrina to that, and the subsequent news images, reports to the public dealing with that kind of look in a mirror. But this was also stating it's the look into the mirror just held up to us on and on, as we are locked in the feeling of long term utter dismay at what is really there to be understood. And this film has captured it, and that small observation re-states what this movie does. It holds the mirror to our national behavior in Katrina, to our compassion nationally, our corruption and values, to our reactions and reasons, in this time we call our greatest national disaster, Katrina.
    So first, a thank you to those willing to allow invasion into their pain. And to the makers. It's not easy to bear that heat. And it is awesome personal narratives told the story.

    Likewise I'd really have vastly preferred to see this in the theater.
    Large and inescapable, because of its intensity, I ran out numerous times unable to bear a lot of it. The scenes and the pain for the people are so overwhelmingly playing out- it's difficult to re-live it with them. To look in this film to see what being poor and black sitting on prime real estate in America today gets you by way of disaster response, it just stills my thinking down to utter horror. It's beyond me to try to qualify this national memorial, requiem, impossible to square it with any glimmer of fairness that was buried by this Bush backed leadership. In a time of pain here, today, clearly the predominant issue in American compassion is not determined by anyone's suffering. No, it isn't. Watch.

    So within this documentary you look at personal experiences, learn about the aftermath, re-visit obviously good folk dealing with harsh tragedy, see the governmental agencies in play in Katrina, get to even hear a cleaned up Barbara Bush extolling the virtues of shelter life for underpriviledged blacks who are in apparently, in her view, better positions and loving it. ( I'll never ever forget what I saw then as she blithely said to her TV audience that the dispaced in Texas shelters were really liking hotel life as, after all, it was just a good time compared to their real lives. If ever, ever I wanted the defining statement of the attitude I find pernicious beyond belief that would be the you tuby film clip of it) You get to see the experience through time, even hear about weather patterns, the levy's- the works. It's so compelling you listen and watch masterful editing taking you down a river of meaning to arrive at a place where ultimately you are left with the thing New Orleans always embodied anyway, the sheer spirit of a people to endure and find their human dignity, their essence just there.
    The art of this documentary is that somehow Lee finds what makes New Orleans something we treasure that is seen, no held,reflected to us, in her arts, it's the soul I think of that waiting for a day of justice, of freedom, of fairness. Asking the question if we are going to face up to and live our creeds. The artist's role is asking. It is just there in that guy in the film playing the trumpet walking past the piles of collected filth.....playing with the mastery of the artist asking, How could this happen? And what does this say of our greatness, and where exactly does our greatness find expression?

    I think the film poses the question to this generation, to my generation.
    I don't think any art work poses it better. In it at least for me Mr. Lee cemented his place in a narrow group that I have held up in my consciousness of those willing to hold a mirror to a national audience. I don't think until we deal with what Katrina raised we have any imperative to govern. We may do it, but we don't seem to me to have any clarity about what we do it for. Because we lost "we the people" somehow and I don't see anyone noticing really that in the national bus we aren't even putting a segment of our people in the back seats. We are leaving them out on the road and kicking dust in their face. But that's me and it shouldn't get in the way of watching. There is so much to be taken here in personal ways, so much to motivate and understand. It will stand alone for me as a piece. I could write in twenty minutes and say something entirely different as some moment and question raised flashed into memory. It's deep this work. Worth the time.

    I'd watch and give this to family, teachers, teens, as graduation present, to groups that want to do work on issues of our times. Screen it with those that might not be paying attention....more info
  • They're Still Broken
    Spike Lee tells the New Orlean's story in a manner that only he can. There are many truths that he brings forth and the story is quite heart-wretching. The story of what happened and continues to NOT happen in New Orleans is quite provocative and disturbing. I would recommend everyone watch this documentary and let your conscience be your guide. ...more info
  • Required viewing
    This should be required viewing for every citizen of this U. S. of A. I cried through most it. I was angry through most of it. Most of all my heart went out to all those citizens of the Gulf Coast and especially New Orleans for their suffering. May this never, ever happen again. Thank you Spike Lee for this comprehensive look at the largest natural disaster to ever hit the United States. ...more info