“Judas and the Black Messiah” is a biographical drama directed by Shaka King that tells about the Black Panther Party (BPP) in the late 1960-s. The name links the events in the movie with the Bible story about the betrayal of Judas. The Black Messiah is Fred Hampton, who leads the BPP’s Illinois chapter. The Judas is the William O’Neal who cooperated with the FBI to assist them by reporting on Hampton’s plans and actions and, later, assassinating him.
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Ultimately, O’Neal repented of his betrayal just as Judas did. Furthermore, the unbearable burden of the deed made O’Neal commit suicide. While the FBI was fighting a far-left communist movement, the traitor was driven only by the fear of getting imprisoned and easy money. As prominent English film critic, Mark Kermode (2021), puts it, O’Neal was a perfect tool to report on the party because he had “no avowed political beliefs beyond self-preservation” (para. 3). Indeed, salvation and financial remuneration occur to be powerful drivers to betray fellows.
Another well-known critic Peter Bradshaw (2021), calls “Judas and the Black Messiah” a “fiercely watchable and passionately performed drama” (para. 2). It is impossible to disagree with these words because the actors’ performance, soundtracks, and atmosphere capture the audience from the beginning of the film and keep them in suspense until the beginning of the credits. Besides, the movie is highly topical due to the rise of anti-resist movements, including Black Lives Matter.
To conclude, it might be argued that the film shows how white people could manipulate black ones and turn them against each other. Nonetheless, the key message of “Judas and the Black Messiah” lies not in the race per se but the fact of betrayal and the fear to go against the will of the rich and mighty and revealing the truth to people who trust you. This problem does not depend on race, gender, nationality, or any other factor. Instead, it is about morality and life priorities and values.
Bradshaw, P. (2021). Judas and the Black Messiah review – electric Black Panthers drama. The Guardian. Web.
Kermode, M. (2021). Judas and the Black Messiah review – truly gripping Black Panther drama. The Guardian. Web.