Sometimes you watch a film that’s so much more than just a film. Some try to convey deep messages, but only few make a lasting impact. When the credits rolled after BlacKkKlansman, the entire room was silent for a minute. No one rushed to get up out of their seats. Nobody said a word. It was almost as if everybody in the audience collectively held their breaths. That is when you know you’ve just watched a very powerful film. But what makes BlacKkKlansman such a powerful must-see? Let’s take a look.
What is it about?
Summary taken from RottenTomatoes:
It’s the early 1970s, and Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Determined to make a name for himself, Stallworth bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan. The young detective soon recruits a more seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), into the undercover investigation of a lifetime. Together, they team up to take down the extremist hate group as the organization aims to sanitize its violent rhetoric to appeal to the mainstream.
Witty and funny enough to make you uncomfortable
BlacKkKlansman is a dramatization of real-life events. Based on the book by Ron Stallworth, it tells the story of a time in which the black community actively fought for their rights and of the opposing KKK attempting to infiltrate the mainstream. While the style of the film clearly indicates that we’re dealing with another time period, the subjects raised in the film are very much relevant today. The film has a rather slow-pace as it is more story-based than action-based. For a film like this, that is perfect. The tension is built in a masterful way. You can’t help but feel the rising discomfort as the film progresses.
The film delivers its message mixing serious moments with moments that are genuinely funny. However, nobody in the theater dared to laugh out loud, because the topic is so sensitive that you’re not sure whether or not you’re allowed to laugh. When a film manages to make you feel that way, it’s a good sign. It means that it is getting under your skin. BlacKkKlansman is definitely one of those masterpieces that will have you thinking about it for a long time after the credits rolled.
A film like this works or fails based on the performances of the cast. In this case, they are what make the film stand out in many ways. John David Washington is excellent as Ron Stallworth. He has no problem shifting to a character in the seventies and manages to navigate his way through the story with a confidence and vulnerability that are great to watch. Adam Driver never disappoints. But I think Topher Grace is one of the true stand-out actors from the cast. He portrays David Duke, the leader of the KKK. He looks the part and sounds the part, which is an incredible feat. It’s not easy portraying a character whose values are such an opposite of your own. I only know Topher Grace from That 70s Show, but his acting skills are really shown off in this film.
One of the things that had the most impact on me and the rest of the audience, was the ending in which they showed footage of recent events. After watching such an impressive film, it was very confrontational to see that we still haven’t learned anything from history. Which is exactly why this film is so important to watch. Let it make you feel uncomfortable. Let its cinematography amaze you. Most importantly, let it inspire you to be better.