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Judas and the Black Messiah


Year: 2021 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Shaka King 
Starring: Lakeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons, Daniel Kaluuya  
An image from Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah: This biographical drama tells the real story of the betrayal of Fred Hampton and the Black Panthers by FBI informant Bill O’Neil. This is a series of events which has been deliberately buried throughout time, but this film succeeds to elegantly in bringing it to current attention and giving an honest account, with the events still being so relevant today this is truly an important film so many people must see. The truly astonishing performances from Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield are what lead this film, with two such skilled performances which constantly work in tandem and off each other in a way which makes every scene far more emotive and authentic. The importance of this cannot be understated as any biographical film needs a strong performance and when dealing with a figure as politically and socially important as Fred Hampton, this is made far more difficult as any poor representation carries with it the risk of damaging his legacy. However, Daniel Kaluuya as always rises to the occasion and delivers an emotionally intense yet measured performance which gives due respect to Fred Hampton and allows the story to be accurately told which only makes it even more effective. The film follows Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), who is the chairman of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s. The Black Panther party was a black power political organisation that sought to counteract attempted police brutality, founded multiple social programs such as Free Breakfast for the Children, and led an intersectional fight for freedom through advocating for black rights and the class struggle. It follows how petty criminal William O’Neil (LaKeith Sanfield), is made an FBI informant to have his criminal charges dropped. He is tasked by the FBI to infiltrate the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panthers and get close to their leader, Fred Hampton. All so the FBI can collapse the chapter and bring down Fred Hampton as he has been pinned as a threat. This may sound like some dystopian drama criticising unchecked power, yet this is all a true story which finally puts these crimes and the corruption of the FBI on full display for modern audiences. Making this an informative and gripping watch you simply need to see.

James Patt

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Screenings of this film:

2023/2024 Autumn Term (digital)