When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts
When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)

Controversial filmmaker Spike Lee explores the U.S. government's response to the disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina in this made-for-television documentary co-produced by HBO and Lee's own 40 Acres & a Mule Filmworks.

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Rated: Unrated
Running Time:
Release Date: August 16, 2006
DVD Release Date: December 19, 2006
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Critic Score: 97% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews
Globe and Mail

The same didactic instincts that sometimes mar Lee's fictional filmmaking serve him well as a documentarian and eulogist.

Paul Brownfield
Los Angeles Times

When the Levees Broke is like the New Orleans jazz funeral -- a dirge on the way to the cemetery, an up-tempo parade in the deceased's honor on the bittersweet walk back home.

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Paul Schrodt
Slant Magazine

Spike Lee's political statement is one of humanism, and the result is his most potent work in years.

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David Denby
New Yorker

Surely the most magnificent and large-souled record of a great American tragedy ever put on film.

Robert Abele
L.A. Weekly

An exhaustive, ruminative, angry and even occasionally gallows-humorous account of the strange domino effect of tragedy compounding incompetence compounding tragedy that dealt a critical blow to one of America's great cities.

Heather Boerner
Common Sense Media

Spike Lee's masterful and disturbing Katrina docu.

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Stephen Holden
New York Times

What breaks your heart is the film's accumulated firsthand stories of New Orleans residents who lost everything in the flood after Hurricane Katrina, and the dismaying conclusion that a year after the disaster, the broken city has been largely abandoned.

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Charlie McCollum
San Jose Mercury News

Do the flaws diminish Levees? To a degree. But the story Lee tells is so powerful, so important, that the lapses aren't a reason not to pay heed to what this passionate film has to say.

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Nick Rogers

There's no way to truly distill this triumph into a handful of words. The ghosts of so many color the corners of a mournful poem and a powerful prayer that's pissed off, hopeful, practical, empathetic and one of the most important documentaries ever made.

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Flixster Audience Score: 96% Flixster User Reviews
Graham Jones
Spike Lee's touching documentary on Hurricane Katrina is horrific and beautiful. A film that all americans should see.
John Ballantine
Spike Lee insisted that we watch all 4 hours, 15 minutes without a break at the Film Festival. We obliged even though it was eventually broken up over 5 nights… More
Robert C
Aside from 'Crooklyn' I can't say that I'm a big Spike Lee fan. But this documentary is so INCREDIBLY well done that I can forgive him… More
William Goss
A thorough chronicle of the devastation and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Walter M.
[font=Century Gothic]Spike Lee's epic documentary, "When the Levees Broke" is an oral history of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans told from the… More
Erin Collins
I thought this movie did a brilliant job of depicting just how much Hurricane Katrina ruined the lives of so many New Orleans residents. I couldn't believe… More