4 Little Girls - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

4 Little Girls Reviews

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December 10, 2016
Spike Lee's documentary about the 1963 bombing of a church in BIrmingham, Alabama that killed 4 young girls is an appropriately quiet and direct telling of the events leading up to the tragedy and it's aftermath. Lee interviews family, friends and other witnesses and largely lets their words speak for themselves. He briefly uses morgue photos of the 4 girls to hammer home exactly what a senseless act like this does. It's a frustrating and infuriating film and it should be. It's one of his better films of the last 30 years.
Super Reviewer
½ May 14, 2016
I wasn't a huge fan of the music - it was a little distracting at times. However, the movie was very powerful.
May 3, 2015
The story is heartbreaking but told so well.
February 6, 2015
A must see documentary about the tragic bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church in Alabama on Sunday 15th of September 1963 that took four innocent African American girls lives.

It focuses on the event itself & how it propelled the civil rights movement & the personal impact it had on the families associated.

It also chronicles the sick man who was not only responsible for this crime but most race related murders in Alabama at that time. It's an emotional documentary that shows their heartache & how it impacted the world.
August 2, 2014
A moving story about a great tragedy. This whole presentation was done beautifully!!! I have watched it several times!!!
June 9, 2014
Spike was robbed,should have gotten the Oscar, "Into the Arms of Strangers" notwithstanding. These four girls are America's Anne Franks, and this film should be seen widely, by families, in schools, everywhere. Done with more delicacy than Mr Lee usually allows himself.
April 7, 2014
A powerful and heartbreaking doc
February 3, 2014
Spike Lee's restrained documentary feels so focused on what it's trying to do that it doesn't have time to fall into the usual tropes many documentaries fall into. Keeping the focus on the testimonies of the family and the interviews of experts on the background of Birmingham's history, keeps everything from feeling like emotional manipulation. Lee seems to have an intimacy with his subjects which yields highly honest moments that I loved.
January 3, 2014
Pour son passage au documentaire, Spike Lee garde l'esprit frondeur qui a fait de son cinema ce qu'il est aujourd'hui et s'interesse a l'attentat contre une eglise afro-americaine a Birmingham en 1963. C'est alors l'occasion de realiser a travers la mort de 4 jeunes filles une etude sur la segregation aux USA. Mais plus que la tristesse, c'est la colere et l'interrogation qui dominent ce documentaire passionnant, berce par la musique impeccable de Terrence Blanchard. Et c'est ce qui le rend bien plus interessant que prevu.
December 11, 2013
One of the most powerful documentaries you'll ever see, and definitely one of Spike Lee's best movies.
September 13, 2013
Spike Lee does a masterful job of documenting the terrible crime that took the lives of these four children. It's hard to see the pain still so raw in parents, friends and siblings. This is appropriate to watch with the 50th anniversary of this crime just two days away.
September 7, 2013
An excellent documentary about Birmingham's four little girls. Powerful!!!!
July 1, 2013
Spike Lee Is My Ninth Favorite Film Director Of All Time.
Super Reviewer
April 6, 2013
This marked Spike Lee's first attempt at a feature length documentary, and the results do not disappoint.

The subject matter, as you'd expect, is not new ground for him. In fact, he'd wanted to take a look at the story of how the deaths of four girls in Alabama played a role in the Civil Rights Movement for a long time...he just didn't get the opportunity until the late 90s.

Perhaps that is a good thing though. With such a touchy subject like this, it can be beneficial to let it settle so new perspectives can be gained. And, in the case of the surviving family and friends of the victims, it takes a lot of time to be ready and able to confront the past.

The film is quite well done. Yeah, there is a political message underneath it, but thankfully that aspect is downplayed, and the film is done mostly straightforward, with the events speaking for themselves, instead of Lee going at it Michael Moore-style.

It's all very sad, and moving, and powerful, but it's done tastefully and with great amounts of respect. The film doesn't just focus on the event itself, but also the Civil Rights Movement in the South at large. I kind of expected and hoped for this, anyway.

Even if you already know a great amount about the times, places, and events chronicled in this film, it's still a worthy piece of work for one's collection, especially as a scholarly/historical aid. For newcomers, it will be a very insightful, and probably shocking look at racial hatred and the tragic violence that too often is linked with it.

Regardless of how you feel about Spike Lee personally, this is essential viewing.
March 10, 2013
One of Spike Lee's best movies.
October 30, 2012
Now I'm not the biggest documentary fan, but this was definitely interesting. Sad and moving, with powerful interviews from the girls' family members.
RJ Smoove
Super Reviewer
½ October 16, 2012
I am a fan of Spike Lee's work, so I quite looked forward to revisiting this insightful and touching documentary that I had not seen since high school. "4 Little Girls" centers around the 1963 bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Four young black girls, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley were killed in the bombing. One thing that struck me right from the opening credits was the peaceful music that played over striking images of Civil Rights protests, gravesites, and funerals. That contrast immediately set the mood for what was to follow. Another scene that stood out to me was when Denise's parents told the story of when they were forced to explain to her why she could not eat a sandwich at a whites only food court.

I believe "4 Little Girls" is a documentary that should be shown in regular history classes, not only black studies classes. I say that because even in high school I did not learn of this sad story until I took a black studies class, and we watched this very documentary. Although my reactions were overwhelmingly positive, I still viewed the film with a critical eye. The criteria I followed when analyzing this particular film was a simple one. First, did it educate me on the topic? And second, did it provide me with an emotional connection to the subject matter? Those are really the two main qualities that I look for in a documentary. Entertainment value comes last. I have to say that the answer is a resounding yes to both questions.

It was hard to cope with the fact that a garbage dump of all things was cleared for blacks to build homes on the land, then I learned that it was nicknamed "Dynamite Hill". The childish cruelness that goes along with hating an entire group of people was on clear display in "4 Little Girls". A reverend who was interviewed stated that about a third of the Birmingham Police Department was affiliated with the KKK, so when bombings or beatings took place, they found ways to circumvent investigations. A white interviewee spoke about the beating of Civil Rights activist Fred Shuttlesworth, who was beaten by a gang of white men (some wielding chains) in front of a Birmingham high school. He said it was especially unnerving because the police said they were having trouble finding the assailants, but the interviewee himself knew at least one of them, and knew that he associated with the police.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called Birmingham "the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States." ("4 Little Girls". Dir. Spike Lee, 1997) The extent of the segregation was unbelievable, and Lee did a wonderful job getting opinions from various sources, and loved ones connected to the girls. Some of the recollections were extremely sad. One of Cynthia's childhood friends could not hold back tears while reading a letter describing a time her mother corrected Cynthia as she made her way to church. Over 30 years later, and recalling one moment they shared together elicited that strong a response. That's only one example of many touching segments that are peppered throughout the film. Those moments really put into perspective the impact the girls left on the people around them.

The scenes that were especially heavy were the parents describing when they learned that their children were killed in the bombing. Most notably the part when Denise's mom described her experience and trying to view the body. The morgue photographers were grisly. Quite terrifying knowing the stories surrounding them. The arrest and trial of the main bomber, "Dynamite Bob" Chambliss was disturbing, mainly because we learned that he was responsible for a majority of the Dynamite Hill bombings. This sad story was very well told in the film. I really only have one complaint. Perhaps Lee spends a little too much of the first half away from the personal stories of the four little girls, but perhaps that was the point. The second half covered a lot of the girls' stories. Spike Lee's "4 Little Girls" is not only about the tragedy that occurred in 16th Street Baptist Church, but also the shameful truth about the handling of the Civil Rights movement in Birmingham. It is a profoundly touching documentary that is not to be missed.
June 12, 2012
Excellent, moving documentary that no doubt holds a special resonance for residents of Birmingham...
½ January 15, 2012
I must say, Mr. Spike Lee can put together a great documentary. It's hard not to feel for the citizens of Birmingham and the community members of the Baptist church for their lost so many years ago. It is sickening what hate people have for others based on things that are genetically controled.
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