The recently published Judas and the Black Messiah brings a history lesson as he embarks on an intimate look at the Chicago, Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party when it was led by President Fred Hampton. The writers of the films, Keith and Kenny Lucas, recently told CinemaBlend the importance of portraying the Black Panther movement as more than armed activists.
“It was absolutely essential to make sure we presented the Panthers in a more realistic way and not the character that they have become, you know, militant blacks in black berets carrying guns. That was an aspect of it. ‘them, and especially the open aspect, but the chapter in Chicago, Illinois, they were on the ground organizing the community, and Hampton was a prototype of a community organizer and he also happened to be a great speaker. So he was able to combine those oracle skills of Dr. King with the fire of Malcolm X at a young age. I think people also lose their reason for being so young, they were children. But they had the foresight to say, “This capitalist system is not for us. The only way for us to repair our communities.”
The film stars Daniel Kaluuya of Get out and Black Panther fame as Fred hampton. LaKeith Stanfield (sorry to disturb you, Atlanta), takes on the role of William O’Neal, a former thief-turned-spy for the FBI who betrays Hampton to the police. The official account surrounding Hampton painted it in a negative light, but according to the writers of Judas and the Black Messiah, its main objective was to bring people together in its community.
“Hampton, he knew it intuitively, and we wanted to make sure – if you’re going to make a movie starring Fred Hampton, you’ve got to make sure you present his message. And his message was about unity, love, bringing people together and working as a group, as a community to be nurtured. It was Hampton. It doesn’t matter what you think of the Panthers. If you study Hampton and read his story, talk to people who knew Fred Hampton, like everyone, everywhere said without a doubt, he was a man who was for the community and for the people. He didn’t want to be a terrorist. He wanted to uplift his community. “
The surrounding buzz Judas and the Black Messiah has been very positive so far, with the two main tracks receiving particular praise. The film has been described as The conformist meets The dead. Film director Shaka King previously collaborated with Stanfield on the 2017 short Zercism.
Judas and the Black Messiah stars Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback, Lil Rel Howery and Martin Sheen. It hit theaters and on HBO Max on February 12. This news was first reported to CinemaBlend.
Topics: Judas and the Black Messiah, HBO Max, Streaming