Editor’s note: Some spoilers throughout
The recipe for stirring up emotions before seeing a movie often comes from two factors — the title and the director. In this case, that was “Blackkklansman” and Spike Lee.
With the help of Jordan Peele, the director of “Get Out,” moviegoers are able to learn about another unsung black historical figure Ron Stallworth, the first African-American Colorado Springs police officer and detective.
The idea of being the first anything is scary — couple that with the precedent of a form of law enforcement in 1979, and it becomes even scarier. Stallworth’s memoirs (Black Klansman, 2014) were brought to life in an over two-hour film after Peele brought it to the attention of Lee and, voilà, instant magic.
Stallworth, played by John David Washington (Denzel Washington’s fine a– son), took down a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan over the phone, during his rookie year. That’s right, Stallworth broke a stereotype about African-Americans by using his normal speaking voice to convince Klan members including their then leader David Duke that he was a racist white man. And no, the voice was nothing like the one portrayed in “Sorry to Bother You,” oddly, if you closed your eyes you would think Washington’s father Denzel was on the screen.
Stallworth, obviously, could not physically attend the Klan’s recruitment sessions with his larger-than-life Afro and smooth chocolaty skin. No worries, Stallworth convinced his superiors to launch an undercover operation and plant a white Jewish officer, played by Adam Driver, to pose as him.
The elements of what Driver’s character, Flip Zimmerman, had to endure to fit in with the Klansmen were disturbing, but not shocking. Attempting to kill outspoken black leaders, idolizing films like 1915’s “Birth of a Nation” and using silhouettes of black people with Afros for target practice were expected. The history of the Ku Klux Klan’s agenda to “Make America Great Again” with an all white country has been depicted several times over.
In the midst of the police investigation, Stallworth began dating the subject of the Klansmen’s target, Patrice Dumas, the president of the Black Student Union at Colorado College. Scenes with Dumas, played by Laura Ruth Harrier, brought in signature moments you might expect in a Spike Lee Joint. Think beautiful images of black men and women sporting their natural curls in unapologetic Afros and his iconic dolly shots.
We even got a cameo from Isiah Whitlock Jr. with his “sheeee-it” catchphrase.
Lee allowed the viewers to take in Stallworth’s story with a full heart before slowly turning up the dial on the stove to make their blood boil.
As Duke gave a sermon during a baptismal-like service for the new recruits, including Zimmerman, the student union members listened to an anecdote by Harry Belafonte about the gut-wrenching murder and lynching of Jesse Washington in 1916. After Washington, a black teenager, was convicted for raping his boss’s white wife he was dragged out of the Waco, Texas courthouse, beaten, stabbed, burned, castrated and lynched in front of thousands.
“Blackkklansman” completely hushed the giggles in the movie theater once Lee inserted scenes from August 11, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia where neo-Nazis attacked demonstrators and drove a car into the crowd — killing Heather Heyer and injuring several others. Well played Lee with the premiere date of this film.
In the current political climate, this based-on-a-real-life film is an apparent reminder for those, who have been living under a rock, need to watch. Let’s do what the community did for Black Panther and purchase tickets for Trump supporters who chants “fake news” all day and do not believe their leader is a replica of the KKK’s anthem.
Photos courtesy of Twitter.com/blackkklansman