Published June 09, 2008
Spike Lee has responded to Clint Eastwood telling him to "shut his face," saying the "Dirty Harry" actor "sounds like an angry old man" and "we're not on a plantation."
In an interview published on Friday, Eastwood told the "Do the Right Thing" director to "shut his face" and stop criticizing him about not including African-Americans in his 2006 Iwo Jima movies, "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima."
Lee responded: "First of all, the man is not my father and we're not on a plantation either," he told ABCNEWS.com. "He's a great director. He makes his films, I make my films. The thing about it though, I didn't personally attack him. And a comment like 'a guy like that should shut his face' — come on Clint, come on. He sounds like an angry old man right there.
"If he wishes, I could assemble African-American men who fought at Iwo Jima and I'd like him to tell these guys that what they did was insignificant and they did not exist," Lee continued. "I'm not making this up. I know history. I'm a student of history. And I know the history of Hollywood and its omission of the one million African-American men and women who contributed to World War II."
While promoting his own war movie, "Miracle at St. Anna," about the all-black 92nd Buffalo Division, which fought the Germans in Italy during World War II, Lee said Eastwood's Iwo Jima movie "Flags of Our Fathers" lacked a single African-American.
"There were many African-Americans who survived that war and who were upset at Clint for not having one [in 'Flags' or 'Letters From Iwo Jima']. That was his version: The negro soldier did not exist. I have a different version," Lee said recently at the Cannes film festival in France.
Responding to Lee's comments in an interview with the U.K.'s Guardian published on Friday, Eastwood said of Lee: "A guy like him should shut his face."
"Has he ever studied the history?" Eastwood asked.
As for "Flags of Our Fathers," he says there was a small detachment of black troops on Iwo Jima as a part of a munitions company, "but they didn't raise the flag. The story is 'Flags of Our Fathers,' the famous flag-raising picture, and they didn't do that. If I go ahead and put an African-American actor in there, people'd go, 'This guy's lost his mind.' I mean, it's not accurate."
Lee responded: "I never said he should show one of the other guys holding up the flag as black. I said that African-Americans played a significant part in Iwo Jima," he said. "For him to insinuate that I'm rewriting history and have one of the four guys with the flag be black & no one said that. It's just that there's not one black in either film. And because I know my history, that's why I made that observation."
Lee also pointed to a 2006 Guardian article about African-American veterans' dismay that their experience wasn't covered in "Flags of Our Fathers."