Based on a true story, Spike Lee’s critically acclaimed film BlacKkKlansman recounts how Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), a black police officer from Colorado, successfully infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan after answering an advertisement in the paper. Stallworth spearheaded an undercover investigation which involved him handling the over the phone conversations and his white surrogate, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), conducting all the face to face meetings with the organization. The ruse was so successful that Stallworth eventually found himself in frequent conversation with David Duke (Topher Grace), the Grand Wizard of the Klan at the time, who claimed to have an ear for distinguishing someone’s race.
BlacKkKlansman raises some interesting questions about the cost of denying one’s heritage and whether it is possible to change a flawed system from the inside out. Equally darkly funny and timely Lee wants to evoke discussion; and use the film itself as an antidote for the illness that D. W. Griffith’s blockbuster The Birth of a Nation has left on society.
Considering that the film makes numerous references to modern day, take the events in Charlottesville for example, it is a little disheartening that the female characters are underwritten. Despite women historically being a voice for change, characters like Patrice Dumas (Laura Harrier) never feel as empowering as they should. While the film has its flaws, there is much to enjoy and take away from BlacKkKlansman.
Arriving on Blu-ray and Digital combo pack today courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, the disc is light on bonus features. The central featurette is “A Spike Lee Joint” in which Ron Stallworth, Jordan Peele, and the cast discuss what is like working with Spike Lee. The segment further emphasizes why Lee was the perfect choice to bring out the parallels between the Ku Klux Klan and the political climate of today. The “Extended trailer featuring Prince’s ‘Mary Don’t You Weep’ does a nice job of highlighting the strong visuals Lee constructs in the film.
Reminding the audience that cinema can play a big role in social change, and empowering African-Americans to believe in their own power and beauty, Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman is a call to action. A unifying cry to unmask and eradicate the depths of hate within America, regardless of what political hood it may be hiding under.
A Spike Lee Joint
Extended trailer featuring Prince’s “Mary Don’t You Weep”