A film about idiotic but life-threatening racists in the 1970s can be acutely relevant, militant, and funky entertainment. Just watch BlacKkKlansman by Spike Lee, who is finally back in great form.
At first sight, BlacKkKlansman is a funky 1970s thriller with plenty of comedy. At a second glance it is still that, but one which also indicts racism and has President Donald Trump squarely in its sight.
The director, Spike Lee, is now over sixty, but at the end of the 1980s, he caused a furore with fiery, socio-critical films like She’s Gotta Have It and Do the Right Thing. Over the past ten years, however, he became somewhat dormant and less cutting-edge. He has always preferred the sledgehammer to kid gloves, but perhaps that is the only way to get your voice heard in a sector dominated by white men and in an age in which far-right scum no longer has the decency to keep its narrow-minded filth behind closed doors.
The film, an idea from Jordan Peele, who made the well-received Get Out, is based on the insane but true story of Ron Stallworth. In the 1970s, he was the first black officer on the force in Colorado Springs and he infiltrated the local division of the Ku Klux Klan.
John David Washington, the son of Spike Lee’s favourite actor Denzel Washington, plays Stallworth as charismatic but stubborn. Spike Lee does not forget to entertain us. He seeks and finds a balance between farce (how moronic KKK members and their wives are) and thriller (moronic racists can be incredibly dangerous).
As the plot reaches its conclusion, he adds footage from the murderous far-right march in Charlottesville last summer. This attests to little faith in his audience and their abilities: the link with our present time was already crystal clear.