If you are aware of the kind of racism that’s happening in a country like the US, the movie Blackkklansman will have a really big impact on you. The Charlottesville incident really became an eye opener to the external world about the degree of the racist attitude of a section of white people in the USA and through this movie Spike Lee has made a really epic and daring move that rips off the face of the KKK and similar neo-Nazi movements.

The movie is set in the early 70’s where the oppression against the black people was definitely on a high and police had a majority who just wanted to harass these people. The rebellion was forming at that time. And our hero Ron Stallworth is one of the very first to join the police force. The movie basically is about the undercover operation of   Ron Stallworth along with his team to break the plan of the infamous Ku Klux Klan headed by David Duke to kill some of the main leaders of the black power movement.

In the very beginning of the movie itself, we get to see a speech by Kwame Ture about the black rebellion. That speech sort of made me feel that this movie is going to be that blatant black supporting docu-fiction kind of a story; The Kaala- Kabali politics of Pa Ranjith. But where the writing sort of roars was after that very lengthy speech. The KKK infiltration and things that happen after that has an edge of the seat thrill, genuine sarcasm, and incredible black humor.  The kind of mocking of the white supremacists this movie has done is so brave and bold and I really wished filmmakers here had that guts to approach subjects in a similar fearless manner.

John David Washington shines as Ron Stallworth. We can sense the gradual gain of confidence of the character in his performance. And you just can’t resist your urge to scream when he sort of triumphs in that final phone call. The part where he acts as the security in charge was also memorable. Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman was cool and confident as the Jew. Topher Grace as David Duke also deserves a mention as he managed to make the character feel so real even when the writing tries to make Duke a caricature. Jasper Paakkonen as the always doubtful extremely stupid white supremacist Felix Kendrickson was also memorable. Almost everyone here in a noticeable role has done a commendable job.

Spike Lee gives multiple kinds of treatment to the film. Like I said, initially, it has the feel of a political propaganda film. Then it slips into this investigation mode. Then there is a satirical black comedy that is happening. After all that there is a mixture of all this that makes the last one hour of the movie a series of wide range of moments that can make you bite your nail to laugh out loud and scream in support. Even in certain detailing Spike Lee has managed to infuse concepts like progressive feminism. For KKK, the women are very secondary and the black people gave them a more democratic space. If you look at the movie from a conservative perspective, the movie is very polarized. But then you have incidents like Charlottesville where such ridiculously inhuman behavior got defended by Donald Trump which easily justifies the harsh politics of the movie. In my personal opinion, this movie could be used as a window to someone who is least aware of the kind of racism that’s happening in a place like the USA. And to be honest, we as Indians can sense the parallels that exist in the socio-political sphere of both India and US. The movie largely uses static frames and gives calmer and clearer emphasis on the dialogues. For some of the tricky cuts by Barry Alexander Brown my heart was in my mouth.

Spike Lee’s dramatized version Ron Stallworth’s memoir is extremely political, extremely relevant and exquisitely cinematic. Blackkklansman, in my opinion, is benchmark film on how craft should be there in movies that are intended to evoke political attention.

Rating: 4/5

Final Thoughts

Spike Lee’s dramatized version Ron Stallworth’s memoir is extremely political, extremely relevant and exquisitely cinematic.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.