Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, based on the book Ron Stallworth, is an exhilarating narrative about a Black cop’s implausible plan to infiltrate the Klan and save the day. Ku Klux Klan calls itself the ‘ Organization ‘, group of people that detests the Blacks and vows to ‘ Make America Great Again ‘, just like its current President.
BlacKkKlansman is certainly the most political film in recent times and Lee’s unflinching control over the material makes it the best Political film since Get Out, which was directed by Jordan Pele who also happens to be a Producer on this film. Spike Lee and Jordan Pele deserve an applause for their audacity to make a film so political, which intentionally or otherwise, reflects today’s world or today’s America. The first thing that strikes you is how similar things have remained for over 40 years.
BlackKklansman is a movie about Identity. Identity as Black, identity as a White, as a Jew, as a Police officer, as a woman. The convolution of these Identities is what powers the screenplay as Ron, a Black cop plans a madcap infiltration act, into The Klan. Ron Stallworth is the first Black Cop in Colorado Springs Police Station. He wants to get in the thick of things and aspires to put the racism to rest, from within the force, while his Black brothers and sisters opt for a rather radical path. Ron loves to take matters into his hands and jump right in the middle of a challenge. As a matter of fact, he is also slightly naive, as one of his officers points out in the film. He refuses to believe that the Klan is planning a violent attack or that a hate-monger could head the government, soon. It is this naivety that thrusts him and his colleague, Flip, into the middle of a tricky game with the Klan itself. Ron, along with Flip ( a fellow officer ), infiltrate the Klan and the major chunk of the bubbling screenplay thrives on the tense moments of this infiltration act. In a particularly riveting scene, a member of the Klan insists that Flip (an undercover cop) take a lie detector test. Lee’s direction excels in scenes like these, where the tension of the scene is notched up by some stylish, affective editing.
Spike Lee’s amusing treatment of this screenplay, injects a sense of fun into the rather nail-biting situations. This dark, comedic undertone is the most enjoyable aspect of the film. In a film, essentially about Racism, Lee also looks at the sexist aspect of our society. One of the prominent characters is a woman, a Klan member’s wife. In a scene involving a bunch of Klansmen sitting and the wife serving them cheese biscuits and adding her bit to the conversation, the hurt on her face stings, as she is shut by her husband. The actors John David Washington and Adam Driver create a casualness around their excellent performances, that beautifully compliment the tone of the film.
Spike Lee has made a graceful film. It is not a black man telling a black people story but is more a projection of the widespread hate and brewing violent behaviour within both Blacks and Whites. The film is bookended by two stomach-churning videos. It starts with a video of a White man ranting about the atrocities of the Black, as if it were a TV commercial. The film ends with real footage of the riots in America in 2017 and that is when the whole film flashed in front of my eyes and hit me in the gut. People going berserk in the streets, claiming their right over a piece of land and massacring the rationale that democracies are built on.
The music by Terence Blanchard is epic and lends a great sense of cinematic empathy to the unforgettable last act. The Oscar nominated BlacKkKlansman is an excellent cinematic achievement, it is time people achieve a sense of humanity and excel.