BlacKkKlansman is definitely the most important movie of the year so far. I could talk about how great the acting, directing, editing, score and style of the film were (and all of those aspects were outstanding), but that would be underselling what it was all really about.
What it’s about
This is a timely piece about racism – violent racism, specifically – in American culture directed by Spike Lee. It depicts the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first black police officer in his department in the 1970s, as he infiltrates the KKK. And it is a true story.
The premise seems ridiculous, in the sense that this is too crazy to actually work. But somehow it does. It definitely has a lot of comedic scenes and is funny overall, but this film is still able to tackle some heavy topics.
It brings up a specific issue – systemic racism in our culture among people in power – and offers two different ways of approaching the issue. Ron thinks a solution to this can come from the inside, hence his desire to become a police officer. On the other side, Ron’s girlfriend Patrice strongly believes that the people in power will not want to change their beliefs and protests and resistance is the way to go.
Towards the beginning, there is a shot of Ron looking up at a sign, but it seems like he is looking into the camera. It’s almost as if this is a wink from Spike Lee that this film is a message to the people watching. It is not a traditional movie, in the sense that it doesn’t just show a series of events and then rolls the credits. Some of it almost seems like a documentary. It is very clearly modern day social commentary and it should be viewed as such.
Out of all of the social commentaries the film brings up, the most obvious one is that it all but directly calls President Trump a white supremacist. When David Duke, the Grand Wizard of the KKK, is said to be running for political office, a character says that America would never elect a man like him. Then later on, Duke makes a comment about bringing “greatness” back to America, which is obviously a reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
But for all of the non-subtle messages about the problems in America, Lee’s message isn’t one of hope. By the end of the film, with an extremely powerful postscript, he is saying that even with all of this apparent progress in the ‘70s, things are still the same.
Lee is begging us to do something about what we just saw. His message is that decades later, nothing has gotten any better than it was. He wants those of us that have the power to make a change, to use that power to do something, or to at least try. And that is what makes BlacKkKlansman so important. It is intended to be a slap-in-the-face wakeup call to all of us who seem to have let this all happen and have not brought about the needed change.
You can see BlacKkKlansman at Parmer Cinema on Friday, November 16 at 6 and 9 p.m. and Saturday the 17th at 3, 6 and 9 p.m. There will also be a panel at 8:30 on Friday night discussing the film and its implications. It will run until the 9:00 showtime.
Image retrieved from slashfilms.com