"BlacKkKlansman" movie poster (Image courtesy of IMDb)
California School of the Arts

Spike Lee’s ‘BlacKkKlansman’ — a fiery message of the past, for the present

“BlacKkKlansman” is a biographical crime film based off the autobiographical book “The Black Klansman” by Ron Stallworth, portrayed by John David Washington.

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“BlacKkKlansman” movie poster (Image courtesy of IMDb)

Stallworth, a black detective in Colorado Springs, Colo., goes undercover and infiltrates their local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. He handles the talking over the phone while his partner Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) portrays Stallworth in face-to-face situations with the Klan.

Along the way, they encounter other characters, such as Patrice Dumas (Laura Harrier), the president of the Black Student Union at their local college, and David Duke (Topher Grace), the Grand Wizard of the Klan. Their mission: to gather intel on the Klan and what they plan to do that may pose as a threat to the people of Colorado Springs.

The film was a real wake up call. Although the setting of the movie is in the past, there are lines of parallelism you can see between back then and today. Directed by visionary Spike Lee, the fiery meaning behind the film cannot be ignored. From the beginning to the end, Lee strikes emotion in the heart of the audience about the reality of people in America. The clips of white supremacists saluting a Confederate flag, the protests, and the hate speech scattered throughout the film makes Lee’s message clear.

It isn’t your typical comedy-action film. Instead of short, to-the-point clips, scenes are longer, and instead of short conversations to keep the audience’s interest, they are dragged on and emphasized. However, Lee doesn’t keep interest with short clips or dialogue, he drags us into this reality, surrounding us with sound, color, power, and spirit. He ties shots together and sparks intensity within the film and the audience. It also helps that Jordan Peele, the director and writer of 2017 blockbuster “Get Out,” is on the productions team for the film.

Washington, son of Denzel Washington, carries his father’s cool, charismatic, collected traits in his role as the only black police officer on the force. Driver, who portrays Kylo Ren in “Star Wars,” is fantastic and hilarious. His performance as an undercover cop stuck in a lie is incredible.

As a teenager, don’t let the movies R-rating stir you. The profanity, the slang, the racial slurs make the film painstakingly real. Although the KKK may be a great threat, Stallworth still suffered racial abuse from officers on the force. I, along with many of you, was not born in these times of great racial discrimination and this film allowed me to understand at least a fraction of what it was like in the past.

However, the ending of the film ties it all together. With carefully inserted clips from past KKK rallies, tragedies from recent years, and even footage of Donald Trump it reminds us that although the movie ends on a happy note, this injustice is not over for our nation. The film does a terrific job of reminding us that the prejudice of the past still remains in our present.

“BlacKkKlansman” releases in theaters on August 10.

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