Spike Lee has an undeniable eye for creating a town of impassable divisiveness as he offers up a vivid artistic impression of how the events unfolded
2018 seems to be a year of repeating social tropes. Obsessed with taking sides, delivering messages and unlawful persuasion, history has a big part to play in understanding our present world. Spike Lee has absolutely captured this emotionally, and turned it into a vibrantly empowering film, offering no restraint when highlighting issues exactly as he sees them in a modern day divisive America.
BlacKkKlansman is the true story of detective Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), the first black police officer in the history of Colorado Springs. Leading the way to progressive policing, Stallworth decides to take on the town’s own arm of the Ku Klux Klan, posing as a white member of society keen to join their forces. Stallworth organises a meeting with some of the Klan’s leading members, except, being a black man, his chances of success seem very slim. Fellow officer Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) is dragged on board, posing as Stallworth’s real life counterpart of the white supremacist character he has created, attending meetings and discovering just how deep the hatred of other races runs in ‘the organisation’.
Feeling almost like Wes Anderson in a race riot, Spike Lee’s direction is simply incredible. His undeniable eye for creating a town of impassable divisiveness offers up a vivid artistic impression of how the events unfolded. BlacKkKlansman feels like a film made by a director immersed in his element, producing work of infinite personality and power. Perhaps a little too closed at times, Lee manages to give off the small town persona of Colorado Springs undeniably well for the most part. Limiting the story to just one town, and mostly one man’s fight against what is truly wrong, gives the film such a powerfully personal impact when delivering its message.
With the script as infectiously funny as it is, the underlying unease of BlacKkKlansman’s plot really strikes hard in its exclusively poignant moments. Very few films manage to ignite their message in such a strong fashion, and BlacKkKlansman does it with more impact than any other. How many films can create such a guilt and unease within its audience? Especially when many of them have absolutely nothing to do with the film’s leading travesties. It’s a credit to Lee as he offers up guilt for being even the same ethnicity as these people, it occasionally goes as far as just being human. There is no hiding from what BlacKkKlansman is saying, and it says it in the most abrupt manner possible.
The parallels to modern America are paramount. From the openly mocking dialogue to the films provocative final image, this is a picture with no fear and no restraint. It is such an open book, and at times as if a 60’s overlay was placed on real life. The comparisons are what makes it so vivid and so affecting.
BlacKklansman is absolutely a political weapon and it doesn’t care. Lee has broadcast his ideals, and his opinions, through a brilliant story with and incredible cast, flicking between perfect comedic delivery and disturbingly well presented hate speech, effortlessly. Each scene offers deep insight into historical and modern America leaving out no detail, and certainly leaving no opportunity to ridicule those in powerful positions who simply do not deserve to be there.
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