Black Klansman – Too Late to Turn Back Now

| June 6, 2021 | 0 Comments

In Black Klansman, Spike Lee tells the forgotten story of a black FBI agent who fools the local KKK in Colorado Springs, CO into thinking he’s a white racist like them. Excellent movie and powerful depiction of the racism in the U.S. in the 60’s. It is also very entertaining and even comedic in places. Lee knows how to get his point across in the most engaging way.

Maybe the best example of this skill is shown in the “musical movement moment” that gets him on this list. It illustrates a couple of the themes that I’m discovering as I collect these clips. First, it’s point-counterpoint. Tension and release. Terror and joy.

The scene begins with a truly horrifying example of racism in American with a traffic stop by white policemen of a group of Black civil rights activists. It’s a disgusting display of verbal abuse and a hint of sexual abuse. In the very next moment, we see beautiful Black people dancing together brilliantly and singing along to the song It’s Too Late to Turn Back Now, by Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose. The contrast between the ugly white racist cops and beautiful black people could not be more stark.

The other theme I keep coming back to is communal singing. There something about people spontaneously singing or dancing that resonates emotionally, even when it’s scripted in a movie. Here, the dancers clap and sing while dancing. Lee elevates this group of people and creates a deep bond with the viewer. You almost have to physically restrain yourself from jumping up an joining them.

Of course, this scene introduces another kind of tension that advances the plot. The Black Klansman of the title is essentially operating undercover among these civil rights activists. And, even though his cause is just in that he is targeting the Klan, not them, there is a deception involved that you know will create problems for the characters as the movie unfolds. So, this scene is not only extremely enjoyable to watch, it carries some weight in moving the plot forward.

Spike Lee is a brilliant director.


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