Between press clippings and quick takes that serve as a window into the past, the story itself speaks for itself in the opening minutes of the feature film Judas and the Black Messiah. It’s not hard to see just how complicated William O’Neal is in the Black Panther party’s past. As someone who shyly gained space by serving one of its main leaders, Fred Hampton, he carried the group’s identity and contradictory mission to be an FBI infiltrator among its militants. From a fleeting car burglar with a fake cop wallet, O’Neal entered the dark and hidden side of black history, as one who – although he did not destroy a revolution – was forced to kill one of his most eager and iconic. leaders.
Shaka King’s new biopic is adamant in its opening scene and doesn’t waste screen time with trivia that could disperse the narrative. Focusing its plot on the time frame in which the Billy and Fred stories meet, the film is firm in its script and develops well over its two hours, following a more linear narrative – but at no point does this scatter our interest. Abusing the sense of photography in their aesthetics, Judas and the Black Messiah attracts our attention by the choice of their lighting, always more yellowish and lower, making the red skin of their protagonists shine on the canvas.
Using light to emphasize the need for the Black Panthers to always act in the dark – due to constant harassment from the police, filmmaker Shaka King incorporates the film’s photography into the narrative itself, making it almost a character with a life of its own. the scene. The technique also creates a contrast with the performances of Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield, who shine in their performances rich in symbolism and possessing a haunting expressiveness. In Judas and the Black Messiah, the two are contradictions that complement each other, like chameleons that have been transformed from everything they have done in the past.
In a rhythmic voice, as if he always seemed to be singing the deepest poem, Kaluuya indulges his speeches and speeches with precision, always with occasional pauses and fluidity in his scenes. Mastering the clichés in which he easily plays, he blends in with the personality of activist Fred Hampton, taking us on a real journey into the past. With eyes closed, it’s hard to tell when the star leaves and when Hampton walks in, solidifying the perfect bond between actor and character.
Stanfield once again shows the richness of his performances, well known to independent cinema in films such as Sorry You Bother and in the famous Atlanta series. With full and immersive body language, he conquers audiences with his gaze, delivers his character’s deepest thoughts just through his expressiveness, and shows an extraordinary contrast between the euphoria of acting suspiciously and the dread of the certainty of injustice and infidelity before an innocent man. His constant oscillations on the screen freeze our eyes in his performance, giving us a deeply heartbreaking and agonizing cinematic experience. Daniel and Lakeith gain even more on-screen power with Jesse Plemons and Martin Sheen, who as tertiary characters understand the depth of their respective connection to black on-screen protagonism and underline the extent of the quality. from the direction and co-script of Shaka King. with Will Berson.
With a nostalgic costume that reveals much more than the patterns of the ’70s costumes, also highlighting the beautiful contrast of the Black Panthers uniforms amid the colors and tones of the era, the biopic produced by Ryan Coogler (Marvel’s Black Panther) is the purest cinematic delight. Powerful in its message – which makes no political excuses, withholding only the facts – and distressing the unfolding of its events, Judas and the Black Messiah is far more than one would expect from a biographical drama. Cathartic, thoughtful and complex in the construction of its characters, the production is also the symbol of the wealth existing in a film, when its story is told by the hands of the right person.
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