On August 10, 2018, Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman wowed in theaters. Calling it “a furious, funny, blunt and brilliant confrontation with the truth,” The New York Times wrote that the film is an “alarm clock ringing in the midst of a historical nightmare.” Nominated for six Academy Awards®, including Best Picture and Best Director, it was awarded an Oscar® for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Even five years since its release, Lee’s masterpiece is still as moving and impactful.
After reading Ron Stallworth’s memoir Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime, producer Jordan Peele recounts to The New York Times how, “I couldn’t think of anybody better than Spike for this project.” In 1972, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), the first Black detective on the Colorado Springs Police Force, works with his partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan chapter and uncover a bombing plot.
In writing the screenplay, Lee transformed this extraordinary historical event into drama that resonated with what came before and what is happening today. “What [co-screenwriter] Kevin [Willmott] and I wanted to do is make a hip period piece that is about today,” Lee told the Los Angeles Times. “And it wasn’t that hard to do. So much of this hate stuff is recycled.” Vulture writes, “Lee never takes his eye off the connecting thread between the events of 1978 and the present.” Five years later, the topics and themes are just as relevant, if not more.
“This film will be on the right side of history,” Lee told the Los Angeles Times. “Truth does not get old.”