While it is likely not a movie for a Friday night party, the movie The BlackkKlansman is yet a well-made film for what it is about. The music used throughout greatly conveys the theme of black oppression in Colorado Springs, Colorado. More specifically, a black detective’s struggle as he is in a position of straddling the line between the two “fighting” sides of the issue while investigating the KKK. In the broader scope, we have a blend of both music that is known to be influenced by black people in America, as well as music influenced by white people in America. The soundtrack has cultural referent elements of traditional Western classical music like standard orchestral instruments as well as moments of things like groove and R and B even.
One moment that stood out to me was the scene where the old man is talking to the black student union group. He is telling them the horrendous conviction story of the boy he knew when he was younger. Meanwhile, the audience is exposed to the complete other side of the issue. This is because the scene is cutting back and forth between the BSU and Duke giving his speech to the KKK members as they prepare for their ceremony. We have this alternating of perspectives over the same issue, the oppressors and then the victims. During the BSU parts, we hear this minor and sad-sounding clarinet melody accompanied by low and sustained tones, almost as if mourning the victim of the story being told. In the cuts to the KKK, the mourning melody ceases and instead we get some low and suspenseful wind and horn themes in the background of speech. This could be to set up the fact that something bad is going to occur because of the “organization,” in which case we know it will.
The reoccurring empathetic and non-diegetic theme we hear for Ron starts out with just some light classical instruments like strings and winds at times. There is a medium tempo and straightforward drumbeat that picks up along with some other instruments soon after. The final component is the main minor sounding melody being played on the electric guitar that comes in lastly. What is distinct about this theme is that it completes the representation of the two “lives” that Ron must live simultaneously as was mentioned above. The sustained classical instruments remind us of the overall white influence on him, then this somewhat soulful and bluesy sounding melody plays with the drumbeat, creating the full picture. The melody also has a dark and weepy feel to it as Ron is for sure having a hard time dealing with the reality of his situation.
While it is yet another film I question watching again, I still appreciated its ability to convey, especially through its music, the serious themes. Racism, especially to the degree that the movie presented, is a very intense subject and the creators were therefore effective in communicating such a message.