BlacKkKlansman has been a success because it “touched a nerve” with audiences, the film’s composer, Terence Blanchard, a long-time collaborator with director Spike Lee, has said.

Terence Blanchard has worked with acclaimed director Spike Lee for nearly 30 years, writing the scores for movies including Malcolm X, Clockers and Inside Man.

His work on BlacKkKlansman has seen the film earn a spot on the Academy Award shortlist for best original score ahead of the nominations reveal next month.

Spike Lee
Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman has been both a box office hit and a critical success (Yui Mok/PA)

The film tells the true story of Ron Stallworth – played by John David Washington – a black Colorado police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s.

Blanchard, a five-time Grammy winner, said it has been a hit because it has “touched a nerve” with modern audiences who saw a parallel between then and now.

He said: “It’s the perfect storm. It’s a really good movie, don’t get me wrong, and I think it should’ve been recognized no matter what period it was released in.

“But it’s touched a nerve with a lot of people because of everything we’re going through. And not only in this country but around the globe.

“The thing about it is when I talk to everyday people I run into, they’re all frustrated. Everyone is frustrated. Because they feel they’re not being represented. A lot of people feel like there’s a runaway freight train trying to seize power.”

John David Washington
John David Washington plays a black police officer who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan in BlacKkKlansman (Rebecca Cabage/Invision/AP)

Near the end of BlacKkKlansman, renowned filmmaker Lee, whose films explore themes of race and other political issues, included real-life footage from the 2017 riots in Charlottesville, Virginia.

One woman was killed when white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched through the town to protest against the removal of Confederate monuments throughout the South.

Blanchard said each time he has seen the film in theatres, the montage stuns audiences into silence.

He said: “The movie speaks to the time from which it was created. The most amazing thing about it, at the end of the film – whenever I’ve been to a screening – there’s a moment of silence.

“When you get to that moment of silence in the film, you could hear a pin drop in the theatre.

“I always think that’s because the film takes place in the 70s and the montage is current and it’s wake-up call to the fact that we haven’t gone as far as we thought we have. And it hits everyone.”

Blanchard, 56, has worked with Lee since the early 1990s and likened his relationship to the Georgia-born director to that of a dance partner.

He said: “It’s kind of like having a dance partner, where you kind of know everybody’s moves. I know the things he likes, I know the things he doesn’t like and it gives me motivation.

“Because he gives me a lot of room to work but in giving me that room, it motivates me to be my best. When somebody trusts you like that, you don’t want to let them down.”


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