Film Review: BlacKkKlansman by Spike Lee

Thanks to Ellen B. in Rochester for urging me to go and see this film. You’re right … not to be missed. Best film of the year. One of Spike Lee’s best, by far.

*****************

Riveting. Deeply upsetting. Revolting, Infuriating. Frightening. Many of us are wondering how we got here, with a president like Trump holding approval of 40+% of the population. With his film Spike Lee is telling us we’ve always been here.

There are not many soft moments, moments of respite, in this 2 hour 15 minute drama.

The only scene where I practically cheered was the white Klan lady accidentally blowing up her husband and the bomb maker instead of two young black women on their way home from a gathering of black students where a black elder — played by Harry Belanfonte — talks about his personal experience of lynching.

The plot outlines of Spike Lee’s new film BlacKkKlansman are well known and no matter how improbable it might seem, based on the true story of black detective Ron Stallworth. As a member of the Colorado Springs police force in the 1970’s, Stallworth manages to infiltrate the Klan.

The film is timely and in Spike Lee’s own words, has an overt political purpose: he wants to move people to the polls to vote against the overt racism of Trump and Trumpism. In the film he draws a straight line from the racist Birth of a Nation — a silent black and white movie from 1915 that presented the Klan as a benevolent force and black men as having rapacious sexual aggression toward white women — to the  early 1970’s and Klan activity under David Duke to the Charlottesville Va. violence to Donald Trump’s speech about “good people on both sides.”

The film is like a dagger aimed straight at the heart of Trump, Trumpism, the white nationalist surge we are now experiencing, and our nation’s prolonged violence toward people of color.

Don’t miss this film. We all have an obligation to bear witness, and then to act. Vote. Organize. Support political candidates who will push back against racist and xenophobic language and policies.

Above all, we have an obligation to see what is plainly before our eyes.

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