With powerful performances by LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah is a raw look at being Black in America. Not only is the story depicted in the film true, making it that much harder (and relevant) to watch, but it’s set in the 60s and history seems to keep repeating itself. The Lucas Brothers, writers of the film’s story, spoke out about African Americans not being perceived as human.
Judas and the Black Messiah follows William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) as he becomes a double agent of sorts. Accepting a plea deal to stay out of prison, O’Neal joins the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party to help the police take down (and ultimately kill) Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). When I sat down with Keith and Kenny Lucas for an interview with CinemaBlend, the three of us discussed Hampton’s age and him not being seen as human by the people who killed him. Here’s what the Lucas Brothers said:
Fred Hampton was a 21-year-old college kid when he was assassinated. He wasn’t a criminal. He was a person who spoke out against police brutality and fought to keep his community safe from being senselessly murdered. He had a family. He was in love. But he was painted as a dangerous threat that needed to be neutralized, by his own government. As the Lucas Brothers shared:
Judas and the Black Messiah humanizes Hampton by taking the time to strip him of the militant Black Panther caricature and depict him as a real, fully developed person. The Lucas brothers have a lot more stories to tell, and they’re just two of the many people working to change the overall perception of African Americans. Although this film hurt my soul and made me cry, I loved it and I’m so glad it’s been told in the way that it has. It gives hope to those of us who have to choose where we live and how we act based on how the people around us perceive the color of our skin.
You can see Judas and the Black Messiah in select theaters and streaming on HBO Max. Let me know in the comments the titles of other films that stirred an emotion deep in your soul like an emotional wrecking ball.
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Obsessed with Hamilton and most things Disney. Gets too attached to TV show characters. Loves a good thriller, but will only tolerate so much blood.