Director: Shaka King.
Writers: Will Berson, Shaka King, Kenneth Lucas,Keith Lucas.
Screenplay: Will Berson, Shaka King.
Cast : Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons.
Streaming on Youtube.
We are not gonna fight capitalism with black capitalism, We are gonna fight capitalism with socialism.
The bible narrates the story of betrayal where Judas gives up the Messiah of Nazareth for 30 pieces of silver to fulfill the agenda of the people in power that saw him as a threat. Judas and the Black Messiah depicts the repetition of the same history to suppress the rise of a leader from among the oppressed.
Owing to the police brutality prevalent in the United States in the 60s, a political movement by the name of Black Panther Party was formed. Fred Hampton the chairman of the party was an eloquent orator. He managed to join forces with those communities who faced discrimination under the police force. The authorities saw him as a proponent who could change the system. This leads to them planting a mole in the party.
Categorising the film as a period drama or a one-off biopic would be a grave injustice to the film. In the age of George Floyd and Rohit Vemula, the movie stands unquestionably relevant as the reminder of the discrimination expressed towards minority communities by the ones in power. It brazenly removes the masks of American heroes like Edgar Hoover and how they conspired against the African American community.
With stellar performances from Daniel Kaluuya as Hampton and LaKeith Stanfield as William O’Neal, the film is not only a mere dramatisation of history but also a strong message to the oppressors “you can kill a revolutionary but you can’t kill the revolution”.
Verdict : 6/7 stars.
Director Shaka King has described the initial idea for the film as “The Departed (2006) inside the world of COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program).” He thought it was a clever way to “sort of Trojan-horse a Fred Hampton biopic and introduce the world, you know, a great segment of the world who is unaware of who he was, and is highly unaware of the Panthers’ politics and ideology.”
LaKeith Stanfield stated in an interview that he needed therapy after his portrayal of William O’Neal.
Despite being campaigned in the lead actor category, LaKeith Stanfield received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, alongside his co-star Daniel Kaluuya. This is due to the fact that the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences allows each voting member to self-determine which category an actor’s performance falls into, whether lead or supporting.
First film with more than two African-American producers to be nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Picture. It is also the first Best Picture nominee to have all black producers, at 3; Shaka King, Charles D. King and Ryan Coogler.
Director Shaka King’s second feature film since Newlyweeds (2013), his feature film debut.