Despite the title of Spike Lee’s latest film, :BlacKKKlansman,” producer (Jordan Peele of “Get Out” fame) and Lee as director this is not a “Black movie”. In the guise of a police procedural, Lee tells the true story of Colorado Springs’ first Black police officer, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington). Craving action, while stuck at a desk in the undercover unit, Stallworth answers a newspaper recruiting ad for a local chapter of the KKK.
Rather than devolving into a comedy of errors, the movie follows Stallworth’s developing, telephone relationship with the Klan chapter. Concurrently, he is also developing a relationship with the president of the Colorado Springs College Black Students Union, Patrice (who is unaware of his job). When finally asked to meet with chapter members he enlists a police colleague, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) to be Ron Stallworth. Stallworth himself eventually manages to contact David Duke (Topher Grace) Grand Imperial Poobah of the KKK. What follows is best seen, rather than described.
This movie is Lee’s artistic scream at the nation’s racist past and its White supremacist present. It is a brilliant mix of drama and comedy; crime solving and law enforcement; history and documentary … there is action, but this is no “action film” in the usual sense … there is tension without fake suspense … there are speeches, but not polemics … it hits you hard, but not over the head.
Lee makes the movie’s point, that white supremacy is a clear and present danger, with cameos of Alec Baldwin as a fictional racist – Dr. Kennebrew Beauregard and Harry Belafonte – as Jerome Turner, a fictional witness to an early 1900’s lynching; intercuts of “Gone With the Wind” and the Charlottesville riot (including IQ45’s “… good people on both sides …”, nonsense); music – from The Edwin Hawkins Singers to James Brown to Emerson Lake and Palmer; a good script and solid acting.
We should all see this movie … no matter who you are … you will learn something … possibly about yourself.