'BlacKkKlansman': What to expect from the Spike Lee film that got an 8-minute standing ovation at Cannes
The movie, which deals with the racial tension that engulfed the country in the 70s, marks Lee's return to competition at Cannes
After the success of 'Get Out,' which won him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, Jordan Peele returned to produce the Spike Lee-directed 'BlacKkKlansman,' which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this week.
Starring Denzel Washington's John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, and Corey Hawkins, the film is based on the true story of Detective Ron Stallworth, who in the 70s became the Colorado Springs Police Department's first African-American detective, and was tasked with bringing down the town's Ku Klux Klan chapter.
Based on Stallworth's novel 'Black Klansman', the movie will deal with the racial tension that engulfed the country at the time and, as put by Variety, is 'as much a compelling black empowerment story as it is an electrifying commentary on the problems of African-American representation across more than a century of cinema.' The trailer for it is out, though the actual film itself will release to audiences around the country on August 10.
Stallworth successfully manages to infiltrate the Klan and enlists the help of his partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), to execute his grand scheme to take down the group. Zimmerman is tasked with pretending to be Stallworth in meetings and rallies he has to attend and has to work hand-in-hand with his partner to impede the KKK's efforts to control the city.
The movie was reportedly met with several rounds of applause during its premiere, as well as an eight-minute standing ovation as the credits rolled. Many critics have termed it one of Lee's best works in recent times, though the director will be no stranger to acclaim. He has premiered five of his previous films at Cannes, though this will be his first competition entry since 'Jungle Fever' in 1991; he also had previously lost out on the prestigious Palme d'Or in 1989 for 'Do the Right Thing' to Steven Soderbergh's 'Sex, Lies, and Videotape.'
Lee has been an outspoken and vocal critic of President Donald Trump's policies and handling of racially sensitive issues. Despite the events having played out in the 70s, Lee weaved in a satirical 'America First' chant from the Klansmen — alluding to the president's cozy relationship with Klan supremo David Duke — so expect 'BlacKkKlansmen' to carry a stinging and underlying political commentary on what Lee views as 'Trump's America.'
The movie's date of release, August 10, is also of political and poetic relevance. The date chosen marks the 1st anniversary of the Charlottesville riots and the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Heyer died in the violence that engulfed the city following the 'Unite the Right' rally that included white supremacists, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, Klansmen, and neo-Nazis protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E Lee from Emancipation Park.
In the wake of the riots, Trump, who according to Lee should have fully denounced the KKK, members of alt-right, and neo-Nazis, instead came out to state that there were 'very fine people on both sides,' and was met with a barrage of heavy criticism.
'BlacKkKlansman' reportedly pays homage to Heyers, though Lee chose to do so through graphic footage of the 32-year-old's death which was included after obtaining permission from her mother.
Grace has earned plaudits for his portrayal of Duke, and both Washington and Driver are expected to bring their own raffish charm to their characters. While some of Lee's recent works were underwhelming and haven't set the world alight, the current consensus is that 'BlacKkKlansman' might just turn out to be one of the breakout hits of the year.