10:47pm PT by Katie Kilkenny
Spike Lee Explains Why '70s-Set 'BlacKkKlansman' Is "Not a Period Piece"
Spike Lee is revealing one of the ending scenes of his latest film, BlacKkKlansman, before the film is even out to make the case for its relevance in 2018.
On a Tuesday appearance on The Tonight Show, Lee told host Jimmy Fallon that he didn't mind talking about an already much-discussed ending scene before the film releases on Friday. The ending, the director explained, had already been revealed in film reviews coming out the Cannes Film Festival, where BlacKkKlansman premiered.
Of the scene, which excerpts video clips from the 2017 Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally and counterprotest that turned violent and killed one counterprotester, "That was something I did with my co-writer," Lee said. "We knew that this film was going to have to connect, we did not want it to be a period piece ... [given] this crazy guy in the White House."
Fallon started off the conversation by complimenting the 1970s-set film, which he had seen recently, and which he later described as a "good wake-up call."
"The times call for that," the Do the Right Thing filmmaker responded. "I think the urgency that you felt is what I feel being in America today." Lee noted that he is releasing the film on August 12, the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville rally and counterprotest.
As Lee has noted previously, Get Out writer-director Jordan Peele initially tipped him off to the true story of film subject Ron Stallworth, a Colorado police officer who infiltrated the Klu Klux Klan first via telephone conversations, and then enlisted a white colleague to handle in-person meetings with the hate group. (Stallworth later told his story in his memoir Black Klansman, published in 2014.) John David Washington plays Stallworth (a last name Fallon noted he enjoyed), with Adam Driver playing a Jewish co-worker who handled in-person KKK meetings.
When Peele called him up, "He says it's really six words: Black man infiltrates KKK," Lee said, referring to the full name denoted by the acronym.
Fallon said that the film has a typically unique soundtrack, to which Lee replied that his favorite song in the movie is The Temptations' "Ball of Confusion," which he thought encapsulated the movie's themes.
Towards the end of their discussion, Lee turned the conversation back around to Trump: "What is really awful is that the so-called president of the United States of America had the opportunity to condemn hate, condemn the KKK, condemn Nazis, condemn the Klan, and he said 'there's fault on both sides,'" he said.