I do not remember who said it, but these words stayed deeply in my memory that to play American anthem, it is not enough only white piano keys. But I remember this meaningful sentiment almost always when there is a topic of racial intolerance that reaches us from the times of slavery. This topic is particularly relevant to the United States of America, whose most shameful pages relate to the activities of the Ku Klux Klan.
This reactive organization emerged when America's growing abolitionist movement collided with President Abraham Lincoln's policy. The separation of several southern republics from the US Confederation provoked a civil war that lasted four years, after which a violent racist organization brutally resisted the possibility of former slaves to exercise their civil rights.
It so happened that the bold film today is very ambiguous. It must be presented correctly, not too overly clever, but so that the viewer leaves the hall with some thoughts. However, these thoughts should not be about the film itself. The fact is that smart films today is considered one which raises important problems. And which problem is most relevant in the US? Racism.
The latest director Spike Lee's movie, BlacKkKlansman, tells a story that may seem incredible, but it really happened in the 1970s in Colorado. Then, the young black policeman Ron Stallworth (played by actor Denzel Washington's son John David Washington) invented an original way to unmask the Ku Klux Klan and prevent their bloody action.
It’s alternatingly comic, heroic, tragic, horrifying, ridiculous, dead serious, clear-eyed, and confused; it shifts into moments of documentary and even essay film, but it’s also one of Lee’s more entertaining and vibrantly constructed works.
It's a biographical and historical film that has real prototypes.
Director Spike Lee is one of the most well-known and reputable African-American directors who became famous in the 80s with the tape Do the Right Thing about racial tensions that flare up like a fire. The BlacKkKlansman was unexpectedly spotted at the Cannes Film Festival. Positive reviews from critics, high ratings from the audience, Grand Prix of the jury. Personally, I went to the film with the anticipation that the creative crisis of the once interesting author had passed.
BlacKkKlansman, Official Trailer - Video credit: youtube.com
The Short Story Of The Movie
The beginning of the 1970s in the United States. Ron Stalworth (John David Washington) is the first African American police detective at the Colorado Sprint Police Department, dying of boredom, working in the archive. He asks the authorities to give him a chance to prove himself in the field work. After the first test with a visit to a political meeting of local black students, he is transferred to the operations department.
He feels committed to earning respect so going to a dangerous mission - he wants to infiltrate in Ku Klux Klan and show its activities to the world. The young detective invites more experienced colleague Flip Zimmerman to help. This will be the most important secret study in life.
Both of them work in the Colorado Springs City Police and fall into the clan's enemy ranks according to ethnicity. Ron Stalworth is black, and Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) is a Jew. The first found a clan's phone in a local newspaper, calls, and offers to fight together with the enemies of the white race.
And when he gets a proposal to meet and discuss the tactics of a future fight, he has to send an experienced detective Flip instead of himself. The main idea of the film is to tell a criminal operation, a double and complex deception when a policeman infiltrates into an extremist racist group.
The film about racism, BlacKkKlansman - Photo credit: daskulturblog.com
The Content Of The Movie
The director introduces the viewer with the context of the film by two very precise accents: in the beginning, we see scenes from the film Gone With the Wind - Scarlett O’Hara walks between the wounded soldiers, the camera rises to the flag of the Confederation in attempts to show up the dead and wounded bodies. Immediately after this pathetic prologue, the hard-to-recognize Alec Baldwin appears on the screen, which plays a white rights advocate and rehearses the speech to "real patriots" and names the main enemies of white Americans - black, Jews, and Masons, and also blesses the white protestants in the name of God for a new Crusade.
Director Spike Lee no longer develops the theme of the Masonic conspiracy against America, but the black and the Jew will be the most important heroes of the following story.
Before watching BlacKkKlansman you can expect the film director's sympathy should be on the side of his race heroes. It would be logical to expect racists to be depicted negatively and cartoony, and the black people will look like their full opposite. Such expectations are only partially confirmed. It seems that the director does not want to take only one radical position and does not sympathize with any extremism, condemning the outdated racial conflict.
Movie Review: BlacKkKlansman - Photo credit: imdb.com
Strangers who are unfamiliar with the modern United States may think that racial conflicts in America are already in the past. However, such an opinion is contradicted by the documentary shots of recent past added in the film story's finale.
In fact, in this atmospheric band that is trying to reconstruct past era, the story is socially relevant to us today, but it looks quite local at the time - it's just the affairs of black people who suffer racism and harassers who attack them, ignored for a long time.
Tension is constantly growing due to the infiltrated agent's challenges, but to me, it seems hard to believe that such an operation could ever exist. In addition to this, the human rights situation and the atmosphere of that time is presented in detail in the context.
But still, the BlacKkKlansman is much more fascinating than disappointing. Of course, if you can call the joy feeling from observing how a recognized master reveals the painful points of American society. When the United States flag turns from colorful into white-black in the finale, the heart shrinks from pain, admiration, and, probably, an unconscious sense of justice looming somewhere on the periphery of the consciousness, trampled by chauvinistic society.
The film about racism BlacKkKlansman - Photo credit: imdb.com
The black and white in Stallworth's history are antipodes that make it difficult to understand each other, but which, no matter what happens, will coexist one next to the other for a very long time. But is it not better not to exist, but to live? Is it not better to throw aside all the stupid prejudices and just enjoy the blue sky above your head and the green grass under your feet?
Simple things sometimes require a difficult explanation. BlacKkKlansman does not give answers - it correctly formulates the questions.
This film is based on a clear humanistic message and speaks not only about the problems of America, but also about the problems of the whole world.
Do not forget that this is just a movie - a bright, passionate, but deeply personal statement of the director, who takes to heart the wounds of his people. It captures precisely by this personal intonation, which organically combines the cinema, document, newsreel, quotation, testimony, and even - a little less organically - a couple of operetta scenes.
A jumble of genres, contrasting emotions, and incompatible styles is unprecedented here, but you take it for granted in the red-hot magma of this movie.
It is clear that no story in the movie cannot do without love. It is here too, slightly alien to the main plot and an overly perfect but sympathetic and well-played love story to the determined Patrice.
BlacKkKlansman review - Photo credit: news.google.com
The Personages Of The Movie
The authors have worked perfectly for each of the characters. Someone a little more, someone - a little less, but each of them fits perfectly into the story. The clan members were presented especially well - they are very charismatic and memorable.
When Ron Stallworth enters the police service, not everyone is happy to see a black employee in their ranks. First, he has to endure several attacks on the grounds of racial hatred from colleagues. But the young man shows himself as a novice policeman from the best side, and then good luck smiles on him.
Flip's character was essentially invented for the film; in reality, Chuck went to meetings instead of Ron. Chuck had no Jewish roots, and he was much less involved in the investigation - he participated only in the most extreme cases. Flip faces a self-identity crisis. He never thought about his roots, did not support traditions, when suddenly he communicates with people who blindly hate all Jews.
Ron’s infiltration into the Ku Klux Klan ranks occurs through the deconstruction of his own identity, a split in which he himself keeps a constant connection with members of the racist cell in a telephone mode. At the same time, Flip from the inside sees the very essence of the organization and its local Heilgittlers. Flip has his personal goals, and therefore, being a shadow of Ron, he also understands his personal cockroaches, which, in the first place, concern his own authenticity.
John David Washington in BlacKkKlansman - Photo credit: imdb.com
Ron and his girlfriend show two different views of the world: one believes that the system can be changed from the inside, the other is confident that the system is always against her, and she can only fight with it from the outside. The film does not give an answer as to which of them are right (and if at least someone is right), the authors urge viewers to make a choice themselves.
For Flip, the infiltration to the Ku Klux Klan is an undoubted transgressive experience that undermines his perception of everything that was familiar so far. Adam Driver in this role perfectly complements the plot and political message of the film - reminds that people do not choose their nationality and sometimes do not even think about it until they encounter sudden and unreasonable hatred or discrimination.
Ron wanted to achieve justice only using legal means. It is very interesting to observe how he restrain his hatred and anger towards these people and, at the same time, during the whole film he reconsider their outlook on life.
Adam Driver: ‘BlacKkKlansman’ shows how racism ‘has been part of the conversation in this country for so long.
Heroes all the time get into idiotic situations, approach to each other in the background of risk and in the finale support each other very much.
The film also features David Duke (Topher Grace), a well-known racist, an ultra-right nationalist and deputy who once headed the Ku Klux Klan office, opposing the main character and suspiciously resembling Trump. He manipulates people with its speeches and marks to the higher ranks of the government.
The remaining actors also played their characters well. I would like to highlight Jasper Pääkkönen. The first one played the racist psychopath, who literally feels the Jews and hates them.
Flip - Adam Driver in biography drama BlacKkKlansman - Photo credit: cinematictalk.wordpress.com
The Technical Side Of The Movie
The powerful company gathered at the helm of the movie and the great interesting material that formed the basis of the story affected the final material. BlacKkKlansman is perhaps the best film directed by Spike Lee in the new millennium.
It has an unobtrusive, and in some places - very subtle humor, references to significant people and events of African-American culture, fascinating, music and dancing successfully conveying the atmosphere of the 70s, an interesting visual effects.
The director skillfully recreates the look of the era, with her retro hairstyles, the manner of communication, suede jackets, and music, and the actors embody memorable personages on the screen. Lighting, setting the frame - everything is done so that the viewer is transported about 40 years ago.
The film boasts by its great atmosphere, aided by music and a soft filter. The costumes, the interiors, and all that are top notch, which is why it's just a pleasure to watch a movie.
BlacKkKlansman Extended Interview with Ron Stallworth and John David Washington - Video credit: youtube.com
The Collective Work Of The Actors
The roles perform talented actors who do not allow themselves to over replay, despite some kind of madness in their characters.
The main role in the film performs Denzel Washington's son, John David Washington, having shown, I must say, considerable comedic talent. For example, a romance with a Ku Klux Klan recruiter on the phone. John is a former professional football player, now a famous actor and producer.
I really liked John in this role. Natural, charming, funny, and how he imitates the style of conversation of rednecks is just superb!
John David Washington in BlacKkKlansman - Photo credit: twitter.com
The role of Zimmerman is performed by Adam Driver, who, once again, shows the audience a remarkable comedic talent. The Adam Driver can adapt to any role, and he turned out to be an ideal casting solution, even if his character has little in common with real events.
Adam is one of those actors who does not show vivid emotions but knows how to create an interesting and charismatic image.
Partner of Flip and Ron -Jimmy - played Michael Buscemi - Steve's brother. And when I saw Jimmy, I thought: why Steve Buscemi got such a small role? Yes, he is Buscemi, but not that. By the way, I looked at Michael's filmography, and it turned out that I saw him in many films, but he played absolutely unobtrusive roles there.
David Duke - Topher Grace in biography drama BlacKkKlansman - Photo credit: twitter.com
On The Final Note
I could not believe the stupidity of extremists. Especially in places when emerged sectarian rites with hoods, which, as we know, have actually been, but their rhythm and rhetoric are based on empty argumentation. How can a man hug his wife before bedtime and say that he loves her and at the same time talk about killing the black people? What kind of emptiness, how poor human must be a man who, by justifying his perversity, creates enemies and destroys them.
Even more unbelievable than film seems that there are still full of such people today around us. Many people desperately need enemies and disdain for to feel right, because no one without these miserable struggles does not consider them worthy of being called human beings.
To be honest, I am surprised that there are still problems with racism in America, because they have lived side by side with African-Americans for decades now, and are still not used to it. To hate a person for his skin color? It's all complete nonsense - our cleanliness is not outside, but - inside.
Spike Lee, John David Washington, Adam Driver, and Laura Harrier in BlacKkKlansman - Photo credit: imdb.com
The BlacKkKlansman film seemed to be very difficult, and the footage from the archive of six months ago hit my nervous system even harder. It's one thing to watch a movie, another thing to see how it really was. But anyway, the director wanted to tell the world about the problems that still exist and which, probably, cannot be solved, and I think he did it.
Director Spike Lee's film is a call for immediate action; the charge received from it is quite enough to go to the rally on the nearest weekend. The film's engaging, meaningful, though not all I might have liked.
Ron Stallworth : You're Jewish. They hate you. Doesn't that piss you off? Why are you acting like you don't got skin in the game?
My rating: 9.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 95/100
Critics average: 8.2/10
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