Judas and the Black Messiah focuses its attention on Bill O’Neal and Fred Hampton, but some changes were made to their stories to benefit the film.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for Judas and the Black Messiah.
Judas and the Black Messiah It is based on the true events that led to the 1969 murder of Fred Hampton, funded by the state. Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), president of the Illinois section of the Black Panther Party, was considered a radical threat by the FBI, in the film, one of the agents compares the Black Panther Party with the Ku Klux Klan, a false equivalence without a doubt , and J. Edgar Hoover’s plan is to stop the rise of Hampton, the headline of the “Black Messiah.”
While Hampton is central to the film’s narrative, FBI informant William “Bill” O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield) is at the forefront, infiltrating the Black Panther Party and later offering the plans for Hampton’s apartment, an act which would lead to his murder by the Chicago police. Judas and the Black Messiah It gets a lot of the right facts about what happened and the roles Hampton, O’Neal, and the FBI played. But, considering it’s a movie, creative liberties are sure to be taken, whether it’s as simple as exaggerating the truth a bit or modifying the events to better suit the narrative. These are the biggest changes to the film at Hampton and O’Neal.
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Bill O’Neal was in a car accident
In Judas and the Black Messiah, Bill O’Neal’s presentation involves him stealing a car outside a convenience store, with the owner and a couple of other people clamoring to stop him before he drives off with him. One of them successfully used a knife to cut through the ceiling and stab Bill before he finally walked away. However, Bill doesn’t seem to get very far before police officers apprehend and arrest him. While Bill stole a car in real life, he claims he was with a friend the night of the robbery.
They had both been drinking and decided to steal the car, driving through Chicago for nearly an hour before deciding to visit a relative across state lines. He and his friend were in an out-of-state car accident, drove away from the incident, and returned to Chicago on a bus. According to O’Neal himself, it wasn’t until four months later that FBI agent Roy Mitchell contacted him about the incident. It was another months before Mitchell proposed to join the Black Panther Party as an FBI informant, with a promise that the auto theft charges would be dropped. The movie, on the other hand, plays fast and loose with the timeline and event that led to O’Neal and Mitchell’s first meeting, and only the robbery is positioned as the path prior to their joint work.
Hampton and O’Neal were younger in real life
Judas and the Black Messiah he never reveals the exact ages of Hampton and O’Neal. Kaluuya and Stanfield are 31 and 29, respectively. For the purposes of the film, the audience must assume that Hampton and O’Neal are also the same age. However, Hampton was just 21 when he was assassinated, a decade younger than his on-screen counterpart. Meanwhile, O’Neal was just 17 when he became an FBI informant and was in his early 20s at the time of Hampton’s death. That’s a big change, as the ages of men greatly affect the way they are viewed. His youth and, in O’Neal’s case, his naivety, were undoubtedly factors that influenced his actions and the emotional aftermath of the Hampton murder. Nevertheless, Judas and the Black Messiah careless to reveal the true ages of the men, thus altering the way they are also viewed by the audience.
O’Neal wasn’t Hampton’s driver
In the movie, O’Neal is frustrated at first because, as he tells Mitchell, he can’t get close enough to Fred Hampton to leak information to the FBI. So O’Neal asks for a car so he can start driving Hampton and some of the other high-ranking members of the Black Panther Party through Chicago. With Hampton in the front seat next to him, O’Neal was better able to interact with the president to finally earn his trust. However, during O’Neal’s only interview with Eyes on the prize, as well as other sources, point out that he had never been Hampton’s driver. According to O’Neal, who says it was easy to get a position with the Panthers because there were not enough staff at the time, he was given the position of chief of security fairly quickly and there is no information to suggest that he had to convince. Mitchell to get him a car to get closer to Hampton.
Hampton opened his eyes during the raid
The police raid that comes in the final moments of Judas and the Black Messiah shows what happens after O’Neal hands Mitchell the plans over to Hampton’s apartment. The night of the raid, Hampton invited several people to dinner before O’Neal gave him a drug that would keep him asleep during the violent and heartbreaking event. In the film, Hampton’s girlfriend and fellow activist Deborah Johnson, who now goes by the name Akua Njeri and is played by Dominique Fishback in the film, attempts to wake Hampton as soon as he starts hearing gunshots.
However, he never wakes up and thereafter he is shot point-blank while sleeping and dragged out of bed and across the floor as a result. However, as Njeri it says, Hampton’s eyes were wide after being shaken. He raised his head slowly, eyes fixed on the entrance, before laying his head down. Njeri affirms it “was the only move he made”During the raid. In the movie, Hampton never wakes up, his eyes remain closed, and his head remains on the pillow for the entirety of the police assault.
Creative freedoms were made for O’Neal & Mitchell’s relationship
Kenny and Keith Lucas, the brothers who shaped the story that eventually became Judas and the Black Messiah, he took creative liberties regarding O’Neal’s relationship with Mitchell, his FBI handler. The Lucas brothers say they didn’t really know the full nature of their relationship and that, after watching O’Neal’s Eyes on the prize interview, they couldn’t take the man at his word. In an interview with Decider, Kenny Lucas said that “took what [O’Neal] he said, and made some assumptions based on other research we’ve done, about the relationship between informants and their handlers.In scenes focusing on the O’Neal and Mitchell dynamics, the brothers added dialogue that they believe was spoken during their exchanges without fully knowing how close or distant the pair were during that time period. In the movie, Mitchell encourages O’Neal to do better by providing information on occasion. When they meet, it is in a restaurant where O’Neal orders steak and Mitchell gives him money. Their meeting place in real life is unclear, although O’Neal reveals that he had been at Mitchell’s house.
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