Judas and the Black Messiah tells the story of Fred Hampton, chairman of the Black Panther Party, and how he was betrayed by William O’Neal, a petty criminal forced by the FBI to infiltrate the Panthers and sow discord within Hampton’s movement. Daniel Kaluuya plays Hampton and LaKeith Stanfield is O’Neal, with Shaka King directing in his feature directorial debut and Ryan Coogler producing. And man oh man, is this one of the best trailers you’re going to watch this year.
Judas and the Black Messiah Trailer
Trailers exist for one reason: selling a movie. As a result, they can sometimes be intentionally manipulative, all in the name of putting butts in seats. I know that, and I don’t want to overhype something based only on a few minutes of well-edited footage. But holy shit, this is a great trailer. Full of arresting imagery, incredibly tense, and exploding with energy, this just shot up to the top of my “must-see” list. Sadly, we’ll have to wait until next year to check it out, because we can’t have good things this year.
Here’s a very detailed synopsis released by Warner Bros:
In 1968, a young, charismatic activist named Fred Hampton became Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, who were fighting for freedom, the power to determine the destiny of the Black community, and an end to police brutality and the slaughter of Black people.
Chairman Fred was inspiring a generation to rise up and not back down to oppression, which put him directly in the line of fire of the government, the FBI and the Chicago Police. But to destroy the revolution, they had to do it from both the outside…and the inside. Facing prison, William O’Neal is offered a deal by the FBI: if he will infiltrate the Black Panthers and provide intel on Hampton, he will walk free. O’Neal takes the deal.
Now a comrade in arms in the Black Panther Party, O’Neal lives in fear that his treachery will be discovered even as he rises in the ranks. But as Hampton’s fiery message draws him in, O’Neal cannot escape the deadly trajectory of his ultimate betrayal.
Though his life was cut short, Fred Hampton’s impact has continued to reverberate. The government saw the Black Panthers as a militant threat to the status quo and sold that lie to a frightened public in a time of growing civil unrest. But the perception of the Panthers was not reality. In inner cities across America, they were providing free breakfasts for children, legal services, medical clinics and research into sickle cell anemia, and political education. And it was Chairman Fred in Chicago, who, recognizing the power of multicultural unity for a common cause, created the Rainbow Coalition—joining forces with other oppressed peoples in the city to fight for equality and political empowerment.
In addition to Kaluuya and Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah stars Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback, Ashton Sanders, and Martin Sheen. There’s no solid release date yet, but expect the film sometime in 2021.
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