With racism still plaguing the streets in 2019, the film industry is putting it at the forefront to showcase how ridiculous and ludicrous people’s thoughts about race can be. Jordan Peele brought us Get Out in 2017 to highlight serious issues within a fictional narrative, but now, he has combined forces with the director, Spike Lee to tell of the impressive memoirs of Ron Stallworth.
Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), an African American police officer from Colorado Springs, CO, becomes the first black police officer within his force. Ridiculed for the colour of his skin, he puts all of the jibes aside, as he successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch by using his white-tone of voice. With the help of a Jewish surrogate, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), he goes undercover within the division to befriend the supremacists as a self-disclosed Jewish man. An impressive and unique untold true story from the ’70s.
Spike Lee bombards you right from the start with ridiculous supremacist methodology, riling you up to go through a strong, impactful narrative. Lee highlights the absurdities of the Klan with John David Washington giving a wonderfully sarcastic performance as Ron Stallworth. To pitch everything so accurately, from how alike Topher Grace is to the real David Duke to making you psychically shudder at every ounce of racism is an artistic masterclass in storytelling from Lee. The ending was impactful, bringing us back to life from a punchy, dynamic fictional narrative, making us leave the cinema with a different way of looking at the current political climate.
What’s remarkable is how well Lee balances the story, provoking both laughs and gasps with a film built upon dualities: fact and fiction. Stallworth’s story is heavily fictionalised, yet somehow all of what is expressed rings “true” past and present. Adam Driver assists Washington perfectly throughout, aiding him to get to the finish line, you feel a sense of something bad is going to happen between the pairing, the fact of the matter is you don’t get Flip’s commitment and friendship towards Stallworth. With his struggles of accepting that he is Jewish, does he continue to go along with Stallworth’s ridiculous plan? You find it hard to believe that a man would have that amount of courage to go along with such a dangerous plan.
Those that are fans of Lee’s previous work will realise his trademark dolly shots and cack angled stills, but most importantly, Lee shows you the power that film has. Peele supported this because he knew of the potential it could have on audiences. He clearly believes in cinema’s power to change people for good, lending a passionate edge to BlacKkKlansman.
To conclude, I have nothing but praise for the work that the director has done. He has brought a wide range of talented actors together to tell an inspiring true story; this is why I have a huge love for film. The film intricately uses history to offer teeth-grinding commentary on current events, which in turn brings out some of Spike Lee’s hardest-hitting work in decades. As I’m making my way through the Oscar nominations, this will be a stand-out film for me, an underdog in the middle of artistic pleasure in the Best Feature category.