Spike Lee’s New Film Sparks Critics
The explosive first trailer for Spike Lee’s adaptation of BlacKkKlansman has arrived, and it looks kind of insane, even though it’s based on a true story. Or, in Lee parlance: “Dis joint is based upon some fo’ real, fo’ real shit.”
The film, produced by Oscar winner Jordan Peele, stars John David Washington (son of Denzel) as Ron Stallworth, the first black detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department in the early 1970s. Though he’s still a rookie, he decides to embark on an ambitious mission: infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan. He starts by building a relationship over the phone with K.K.K. leader David Duke (played by Topher Grace). Then, he recruits a white colleague, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), to go undercover as him to K.K.K. meetings, concocting a tightrope of an investigation that could go belly-up at any moment.
“Can you do that?” the police chief asks Stallworth.
“With the right white man, we can do anything,” Stallworth declares.
In the midst of the investigation, Stallworth also meets black liberation leaders (played by Laura Harrier and Corey Hawkins). The trailer ends with Duke leading Klan members in a rallying cry of, “America first,” a saying with dark origins that has been adopted by Donald Trump—who, incidentally was supported early in his campaign by the real-life David Duke. It’s likely no coincidence that Lee—a provocateur known for his topical and political references—found a way to slip this line into his period piece.
The film is based on Stallworth’s 2014 book Black Klansman, and made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday. With its hyper stylized aesthetic, perfectly assembled cast, and wild source material, BlacKkKlansman looks like it could be one of Lee’s best films in years. And based on some early reactions from Cannes, it just might be.