Judas and the Black Messiah – Review

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A biographical film about the Black Panther Party frontman, produced by director Black Panther and starring an Oscar-nominated actor. Sounds like Hollywood’s prima donna project, right? An “Oscar stanza”. So thought Shaka King, as the director and scriptwriter (with Will Berson) of this film. I thought so too. Apparently not. Top Movie Site

Forest Whitaker and Antoine Fuqua have tried to tell the life story of Fred Hampton. The project was not realized. The comedian duo Lucas Brothers (Kenny Lucas and Keith Lucas) also had similar ideas to Netflix and A24. All refused. Before Judas and the Black Messiah was finally realized, it was after several rejections. Why is it that in an era where black superhero films grossed billions of dollars, and black movies often triumphed at award shows, does Hollywood keep turning its face away from Fred Hampton’s life?

Of course the answer is “propaganda”. Ask non-black people about the Black Panther Party, in all likelihood, the majority associated the organization with radicalism. We can see in this film how the director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen), branded them as terrorists. Meanwhile, his subordinate, Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons), equates the Black Panther with the Ku Klux Klan. That is why the appearance of Judas and the Black Messiah is so important, in order to introduce the real faces of Black Panther Parthym, especially Fred Hampton, to the world. Best Movie

Fred (Daniel Kaluuya) is the “Black Messiah” as the title refers. A young leader of the Illinois branch of the Black Panther Party. His figure is known as a great orator who is able to stir the flames of the mass struggle. No wonder, because he had memorized the rows of Malcolm X’s speeches by heart. Meanwhile, the Judas in question is William “Bill” O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield), who was arrested for car theft. Through Mitchell, the FBI made an offer. If Bill wants to be free, he has to infiltrate Black Panther Illinois.

Disguises are no stranger to Bill, who every time he carries out his actions, claims to be a member of the FBI using a fake badge. Why bother faking your identity? Isn’t it enough to have a firearm, robbery can be done? “Badge is scarier than gun”, he said. The sentence perfectly summarizes the issue of the film’s racism. Even today, a police badge is more likely to bring death to a black person than a gun. And everywhere, this class of “people in uniform” does have a great tendency to abuse their authority.

At first Bill didn’t mind (afterall, he was a bad guy who stole from his own people by dressing as “pig”). Until then a dilemma arises. Fred and the rest of the Black Panther accepted it. Even Bill was promoted to chairman of the security department. On the other hand, Mitchell treated him well, paid him quite a lot (he received a total of about $ 200 thousand), and invited Bill to dinner at his house.

Stainfeld makes us feel sympathetic to Bill. Yes, he was a “spy rat,” but Bill was also a victim, turned into a mere pawn. But why does the film take the traitor’s perspective to tell the Fred Hampton story? In the early version, Will Berson dubbed the script The Assassination of Chairman Fred Hampton by the Closet Queen Mulatto Edgar Hoover. Because like Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), this film shows how the traitor, throughout the infiltration process, recognizes his target.

Judas and the Black Messiah is like an outsider’s learning of Fred Hampton. Like many in the audience, Bill initially got to know Fred through his hateful white propaganda. Bill is an audience, slowly knowing, that the facts on the ground are inversely related to what is being taught. Instead of dividing Fred, Fred instead united, especially when he started the Rainbow Coalition, a multicultural movement with Crowns (a black organization other than the Black Panther), Young Lords (consisting of Puerto Ricans), and the Young Patriots, which despite having a Confederate flag, was actually a wing group. left of immigrant rights defenders.

Kaluuya appeared dignified, igniting the fire in Fred Hampton. Each of his speeches gave off a burning spirit of struggle, but not to forget, his eyes radiated sincerity. Sincerity that comes from a sense of trust in people power. Watching Kaluuya, you will be convinced of Fred Hampton’s ability to unite the public through his words. On several occasions, Shaka King as the director used low-angles to capture Kaluuya’s acting, reinforcing the mythical and powerful impression of his character.

With the help of jazz nuanced music by Mark Isham and Craig Harris, where the regularity of the rhythmic content can transform into wildness at times, King builds an intensity that is maintained neatly for approximately 126 minutes in duration. The decision to focus on the face of Fred’s lover, Deborah Johnson (Dominique Fishback), through a close-up shot, to portray the tragedy that we all know will happen, also proves the director’s sensitivity. Deborah looked stunned. But the tears didn’t flow a bit. Signs refusal to extinguish the flames of revolution. Movie Review

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