Based on the true life memoir of US police officer Ron Stallworth, director Spike Lee takes every opportunity to expose the irony of the infiltration by a black undercover cop into the Colorado branch of the white supremacist organisation Ku Klux Klan. Stallworth [John David Washington] while dealing with the KKK leader David Duke [Topher Grace], needed a white frontman to pose as him, whereupon colleague Flip Zimmermann [Adam Driver] further witnessed the anti-semitism of the organisation.
“Hell, this thing is so mainstream it feels like the start of a franchise. And yet, that mass appeal is a huge part of what makes this funny and righteously furious American film so powerful.”
David Ehrlich, IndieWire.
Dir: Spike Lee, USA, 128mins, 2018
Based on real events in the 1970s taken from the 2014 autobiography of Ron Stallworth, at that time the only black serving police officer in the Colorado Springs, USA, force, tonight’s film relates his surprising story. He began his police career as the token non-white officer but after he was placed in the Colorado Springs intelligence unit as an undercover agent, events started to develop in an unexpected way.
He soon made contact with the local branch of the Ku Klux Klan and, with the help of his white Jewish colleague and front man Flip Zipperman, became involved in a series of precariously dangerous deceptions, leading to his infiltration of the Organisation (as the KKK call themselves) and eventual elevation to celebrated leadership in 1979.
Co-written with David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel and Kevin Willmott, the major achievement of Spike Lee’s film is not so much what it says but all the different ways in which it says it. Typically scattershot (a Spike Lee trope), the film paints with tone, using different modes of humour to skewer the basic mentality of bigots, satirise the notion of white America and to savour the absurdity of the true story from which it was adapted. When, however, Lee drops the jokes and speaks from the heart, the film feels marinated in the blood of his lost brothers and sisters. Social mores may have changed since the 1970’s but racism remains a timeless statement today in the USA and the world over.
Acknowledgements: Sophie Monks Kaufman, Sight & Sound
“BlacKkKlansman slips seamlessly from borderline absurdist humour to all-too-real horror […]”
Mark Kermode, The Observer
“There are few film-makers so consistently, burningly passionate as Spike Lee. This is a vital and timely work that’s up there with his best and with a gut wrenching sting in the tail”
Helen O’Hara, Empire
- Spike Lee wins again!
- Excellent – more Spike Lee, please
- Excellent film but the USA is not for me!
- With its powerful ending, this Spike Lee project tackled well a true, almost unbelievable, story and its issues, at an extra-ordinary level
- Plus ça change, plus la meme chose – a frightening but wonderful film
- A powerful and necessary film, and very in-your-face. Some of the plot seemed to defy logic!
- Fascinating tale but there was a lot I couldn’t follow
- Showed the need for eternal vigilance
- It seemed to me just luck that the bomb plot ‘failed’ or did I miss something? Altogether most unlikely