The critically acclaimed Judas and the Black Messiah was breathtaking, and it took me days to process the cinematography. I currently attend Florida A&M University, which is an HBCU, and while in school I was taught the narrative of Fred Hampton. It wasn’t until I watched the film that I was able to fully grasp his story and impact on the Black Panther Party.
With the use of actors, costumes, aesthetics, and storyline, this film was able to reenact history. The story was profound, but the casting of Daniel Kaluuya took the story to another level. Kaluuya was the walking embodiment of Fred. Kaluuya recently won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture.
The movie showcased how the FBI was able to infiltrate the Black Panther Party with a confidential informant. Bill O’Neal, portrayed by LaKeith Stanfield, who, by the way, played this character to the T. The FBI was able to manipulate O’Neal. The then 17-year-old was facing seven years of prison or be free by being a mole. O’Neal took the deal. This agreement would ultimately lead to his demise.
The film highlighted the two parallel societies we live in, in America. Roy Mitchell, played by Jesse Plemons, was the lead FBI Agent on the case. “Their aim is to inspire terror,” Mitchell said while trying to persuade O’Neal to accept the deal. He went a step further to explain how the Black Panther Party is no different than the Klu Klux Klan. Historically the KKK has imposed terror on oppressed groups such as African-Americans, Latino, Jews, and members of the queer community. Where the Black Panther Party was a social justice group dedicated to the liberation of all oppressed people. The Party fought for the same rights the Black Lives Matter movement currently fights for. The continuous and disproportionate killings of unarmed black men are one of many fights that both groups advocate. Judas and The Black Messiah shows how Hampton was able to unite different groups in the inner city, which led to the formation of the Rainbow Coalition.
Another stellar job was the emotional intimacy of Deborah Johnson (Dominique Fishback) and Hampton were displayed. The couple met after Hampton gave a speech and Debroah proposed that she help him with his delivery. From there, the two shared poems and their most personal thoughts. The two talked about the fate of their future often. It was beautiful to watch the love they shared.
Overall, the creators of Judas and The Black Messiah did an amazing job informing the audience of history. According to IMDb, the film has won 10 awards and has been nominated for over 40 awards, and has a 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
You can stream Judas and The Black Messiah now on HBO Max, and it’s also available for viewing in local theaters.