At first, I did not really want to watch ‘BlacKKKlansman.’ I asked myself, do I really need to watch this film? Don’t we get enough of hate and racism in our daily lives, with Trump supporters emboldened by their leader to be racists, xenophobes and anti-gay? But I kept on hearing from people that not only is this film great, but it is Spike Lee’s best. I wish I could say that I have followed Lee’s oeuvre, but a film being touted as such deserves my attention, at the very least.
And I am glad went to see it. No wonder this won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes. This is quite an important film – it says a lot of how what has happened in the past is still happening. And, as important, this is a very entertaining film. Based on Ron Stalworth’s memoir, the film is set in 1972 when Stalwarth (John David Washington) tries to infiltrate the KKK and because of his efforts, thwarts a hate attack. He does this by communicating with the organization by phone and by having Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) be the ‘face’ of Stalwarth. What happens next is entertaining, akin to a thriller, but of course there is more here. The film also deals with police brutality, how blacks are targeted, and how flames are fanned by hate. Sound familiar? As if this weren’t obvious enough, the film ends by inserting footage from last year’s KKK rally from Charlottesville, and how Trump has commended them by saying they are ‘good people.’ Lee has always been a provocateur, but here he seems to be just presenting how things are. The performances here are top-notch, headed by Washington (I just read that he is Denzel’s son) and Driver. I was even impressed by Topher Grace, playing David Duke.
But above all, I really hope people get to open their eyes after seeing this film. I wonder if trump supporters will see how they are faces of hate, that they are on the wrong side of history. Or will they just declare this as just fake news?