This Documentary Shows Why Boyz N The Hood Is Still A Classic 25 Years Later (Video)
Today (July 12), marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Boyz N The Hood in theaters. Written and directed by then first-time director, John Singleton, the film was groundbreaking in its unflinching, yet deeply human portrayal of life in South Central Los Angeles. Premiered at the esteemed Cannes Film Festival in France, months before, the film would go on to be nominated for two Academy Awards–Best Director and Best Screenplay.
In 2011, an amazing documentary was released in celebration of the film’s 20th anniversary, which may have flown under many radars. Titled The Enduring Significance of Boyz N The Hood, the Michael Brosnan-directed documentary featured several of the film’s key players, including Cuba Gooding, Jr., Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Ice Cube, Regina King and Singleton. Each gave in-depth commentary both on the making of Boyz, as well as its continued relevance decades later.
Singleton, who became the first African-American and youngest person ever to be nominated for Best Director with the film, said of Boyz “The movie for me was like a Rap album on film. Just like the rappers were speaking out on [issues] in music, that’s what I wanted to do.” He added, about the film that was selected to be placed in the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2002,“The movie really captured the Zeitgeist of what was going on in that time period in America with youth from all walks of life, and it’s kind of a time capsule for that.”
Both Ice Cube and Nia Long, who like Singleton, grew up in South Central Los Angeles (now known as South Los Angeles), spoke about how authentic the script and film were to their life experiences. “Boyz N The Hood is the original. Nobody was doing movies like this about Los Angeles, how we grew up,” said Ice Cube. “Colors is one thing. This ain’t it. This is a movie that’s not telling you how bad it is to be a fucking cop. This is telling you how bad it is to be in the hood.” Nia Long added, regarding the movie’s authenticity, “I don’t think I really stopped to ever even think about it. It’s now that I realize, because it’s not like this was a story that I had no personal connection to. So for me, it was just playing my life in front of the world. Put it like this: I didn’t realize that the world had no idea what goes on in South Central LA.”
As Cube and Long reflected on how real the film was in its details, Cuba Gooding, Jr. discussed the universality of some of the themes in Boyz N The Hood. “A lot of people, no matter what your color, could identify with living in a situation where you didn’t have an education to get you out of your circumstance. You didn’t have public facilities to help you after school. You didn’t have people who appeared to care about your well-being that were supposed to be governing the community,” said Gooding. In continuing, he also noted that while there were commonalities to which people in many neighborhoods could relate, there were also some very stark differences in the background of those shared experiences for people living in South Central. “Boyz N The Hood represented that spirit of people saying ‘I know we live like what you perceive to be as animals, and I know you think we’re just violent, barbaric people, but we’re just like you. We still have clean clothes. We still date. We still have children. We still fear for our kids to watch violence on TV, but, every once in a while you hear a helicopter fly by…Every once in a while you hear gun shots…’”
The clip above ends shortly before the documentary’s runtime of 28 minutes, but it is well worth the watch.