Film Review: BlacKkKlansman does more than denounce racism
2018-11-01 14:27:17 -


By Juliette Chantitch


In his new movie BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee offers us true story of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), adapted from the latter’s 2014 book. The young police officer and detective was the first African-American to enter the Colorado Springs Police Department – and with the help of his white, Jewish colleague Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), he infiltrated the local Ku Klux Klan, as unbelievable as that may seem.

Throughout, Ron is the man on the phone while Flip is playing Ron’s role on the field. Suspense, humour, extremism and hate are interpreted with perfection, surrounded by the fantastic music of Terence Blanchard.

Lee discredits the members of the Ku Klux Klan by making fun of them. Thinking they are all-knowing and considering the ‘white race’ they belong to at the top of the pyramid, the members are turned into objects of ridicule. Even the Klan’s master David Duke will be fooled by Ron, thinking he has been speaking to a white man since the beginning.

Opposition would be another main theme of this movie, especially in one scene where the contrast is so extreme that it seems unreal. On one side, you have members of the Ku Klux Klan, watching DW Griffith’s Birth of a Nation while laughing and clapping at black characters being killed on screen. On the other, you see an elderly black man recalling the lynching of Jesse Washington in 1916 to a group of African-American students.

The intercut of the two situations creates a dramatic and morbid atmosphere. It is amplified by the calls of “black power” and “white power”, marking a clear opposition between the two groups, despite the similarity of the formulation.

Led all the way by real convictions, Spike Lee’s movie makes a clear statement against Trump’s politics. It was intentionally released on the first anniversary of the deadly Charlottesville riot. And its final images, which show video footage from the crowd where a young antifascist activist was murdered by a far-right driver, are justified in denouncing a situation that should not exist anymore, as we consider belonging to a modern society in terms of thinking and freedom. Thanks to the melding of dark humour and intense speeches and images, this movie does more than denounce.

Winner of the jury prize at Cannes this year, BlackKklansman is a hymn not only to black people, but to all people, of every creed, and to our race, the human one.

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