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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz

BlackKklansman

“Disturbing to Watch but Always Real”


BlackKklansman is one of the most outrageous films of the year and not in a bad way. By outrageous, I mean unstoppable. The reality this film portrays is still happening and it’s the responsibility of every person who believes in equality (myself included) to do everything in our power to destroy all ignorance and evil to the best of our abilities. The film is a harsh but important reminder of that responsibility. The film is about Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) who in the early 1970s became the first African American detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department. He sets out to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan and has his Jewish colleague, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) go undercover as a white supremacist in order to prevent their next big attack.

It’s hard to critique a film when you’re so caught up in it, but I know for a fact that this film perfectly does three very important things: Make audiences very uncomfortable due to the ignorance this film portrays so bluntly, acknowledge the achievement of a history changing man and have that man played by an exceptionally talented actor. How John David Washington emotionally got through making this film, I’ll never know. Yet, I’m grateful he did because it’s an important story and a lot of people I talked to were unaware of who Ron Stallworth is. He deserves to have people know what he did for equality. The identity of Stallworth’s colleague was never revealed but his part in what Stallworth did was just as important. Adam Driver tears through the challenges of playing someone pretending to be so horrible as though he’s tearing pages out of a book. Despite, pretending to feel otherwise, he’s not a detective who cares about getting the job done just to get the job done. Something important is happening and Driver portrays someone who was a part of that with care and commitment. He’s bold and takes risks in his performance at the same time. Topher Grace’s Klu Klux Klan head, David Duke is disgusting and horrible but performance wise, I can’t imagine anyone else playing him. Grace has an unidentifiable quality that he uses here that perfectly shapes the terror of the situation and the reality of it.

The cinematography matches the photos I looked at afterwards as the film really seems to entrap that Colorado setting. The writing and direction Spike Lee gave audiences is a direct reflection of all of his hard work. I don’t think audiences often think about how much work it takes to make a film. Given this film is a true story about such a brutal period in our country only makes me more appreciative of Spike Lee as we are currently in a brutal period in our country and the Ku Klux Klan is still operating.

It’s the beginning of 2019 and I already have read up on real incidents perpetrated by this terrible group of people. Of course, I hold such high regard for Spike Lee, as his film has sparked many important conversations regarding race relations in the United States. While there’s a lot of them taking place, we still need more, and this film will continue to engage us in the kind of conversation that needs to take place in this country in order for things to change and improve between us as a nation. Overall, sometimes, knowing a film will be emotionally hard to watch makes it a little easier to get through but BlackKklansman is not one of these films.

It’s tough, at certain points, absolutely unbearable but always real and in the end, a worthwhile experience. I wish everyone on this film all the congratulations that can be given for the Oscar nominations the films recently received. I thank them for doing their part as decent human beings for bringing an important story that really was in the dark more than people may think, to the light.

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