Arts and Entertainment Editor
Spike Lee released his latest dark comedy, “BlacKkKlansman” in theatres on August 10th, 2018, earning 26.4 million dollars in the box office. Based on true events, BlacKkKlansman does a spectacular job at telling the story of Ron Stallworth (played by John David Washington, son of Denzel), with dramatic additions to the story.
In 1978, Ron, the first African American police officer in Colorado Springs, does the unimaginable. After being transferred to the intelligence unit, Ron sits at his desk tirelessly skimming the newspaper and suddenly stumbles across a Ku Klux Klan add. Without hesitation, Ron dials the number and confidently expresses his interest in becoming a member.
As he passionately recites the list of minority groups he despises, he stops and takes the time to thoroughly express his burning rage towards “those Black rats and anyone else that doesn’t have pure white Aryan blood running through their veins.” A room full of his fellow white colleagues’ gazes in disbelief as he sets forth on his mission to infiltrate the KKK.
If you are not familiar with the story of Colorado Springs’ first African American cop, this movie and the events shown may come as a surprise to you. Although the movie added several fictional scenes and characters, including Flip Zimmerman (played by Adam Driver), Ron’s white colleague and Patrice (played by Laura Harrier), Ron’s love interest, they added a nice twist to the story line.
A white colleague to physically represent Ron during KKK meetings added depth to the movie. Scenes that depicted the many emotions KKK members displayed behind closed doors gave audience members a front row seat of what would normally be confidential information.
Spike Lee welcomed us into the homes of KKK members, yet the theatre still felt tense, as if you attended a party that you were not invited to. Although no one could see you, you felt as if at any moment you would be exposed. Ron’s love interest, Patria, gave the audience an inside look at Ron’s intimate side, rather than cop persona he normally carried.
As Spike Lee’s political agenda becomes more apparent in the movie, audience members become aware of the armed forces present in the KKK.The Colorado Springs police department unveiled the membership of military personnel in local chapters. The movie also discussed the tension between Blacks and whites due to police brutality, an issue that has become more visible in current years.
BlacKkKlansman’s most effective portrayal of racism and its political power was watching David Duke (played by Topher Grace) lead the KKK organization as the Grand Wizard, while simultaneously planning for a political career to “spread hate.” You can only wonder if these political references are subtle jabs at the current political position of our nation, but what else can you expect from Spike Lee?
The movie did a phenomenal job portraying the story of Ron, but some scenes were drawn out. During one scene in the first 30 minutes of the movie, a local rally led by national civil rights leader, Kwame Ture (played by Corey Hawkins), was held in the community. The speech was moving, as Black faces flashed the screen in awe of the speaker, clinging to every word, but the scene eventually lost effectiveness as it began to feel like a never-ending assembly meeting.
The content of a speech can be powerful but if a time limit is not established, the audience can be lost. The movie had comic relief but was followed by dark moments, which made it difficult to determine when and if it was appropriate to laugh.
Overall, the story ended on a strong yet uncomfortable note as images from Charlottesville, Virginia’s Unite The Right deadly 2017 rally flashed the screen. Opposing groups screaming “Black Lives Matter” and “White Lives Matter” broke into physical altercations, ending in a car bombarding a sea of pedestrians, wounding several and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
As the movie ended and the credits rolled, the theatre was silent. The displays of hate were intense, but the displays of bravery shown by Ron were honorable.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment