Trailer: Spike Lee’s ‘Chi-Raq’ Retells ‘Lysistrata’ in Modern Crime-Plagued Chicago

The first trailer for Spike Lee’s controversial new film Chi-Raq was released online Tuesday. The film is a modern-day retelling of Aristophanes’ classic Greek comedy Lysistrata set against the backdrop of gun violence in the gang-plagued inner city of Chicago.

“Homicides in Chicago, Illinois, have surpassed the death toll of American Special Forces in Iraq,” an unseen narrator opens the new trailer. “Welcome to Chi-Raq.”

In the original Lysistrata, the women of Greece agree to withhold sex from their spouses until the men can put an end to war. The trailer for Lee’s film finds the women of Chicago making a similar pledge: “I will deny rights of access and entrance.”

Lee’s film came under fire from Chicago city officials earlier this year, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who criticized its title for linking the street violence in Chicago to war-torn Iraq.

“I told him there were very good people in Englewood who are raising their families,” Lee said earlier this year, according to CBS Chicago. “There are very good people in Englewood.”

But Lee defended the title of the film at a press conference in May, criticizing those “who are judging from afar,” saying those people “don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”

“We have to stop the madness. This is insane. This is nothing to do about Chicago losing tourism. This is not about Chicago losing business,” Lee said at the press conference alongside actor John Cusack and the Rev. Michael Pfleger.

Chi-Raq is Amazon’s first original movie. Cusack, Jennifer Hudson, Samuel L. Jackson, Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, and Angela Bassett star.

Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate have partnered with Amazon to give the film a limited theatrical release on December 4, followed by an exclusive run on Amazon Instant Video.

Check out the first trailer for the film above.


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