Here’s a story that’s just as interesting as it is unexpected. Deadline is reporting that Spike Lee is looking to direct a film about Frederick Douglass. One specifically based off of Robert Guenveur Smith’s one man play, entitled Frederick Douglass NOW. The show isn’t exactly your regular performance piece though. In it Smith has taken Douglass’ text and transformed them into a jazz influenced narrative, one that also has the flair of Samuel Beckett, to it. If any of lost, that’s ok, just know this is right up Lee’s alley.
Spike Lee has had a busy last several years. If he isn’t directing features, he’s directing documentaries, or dabbling in TV. He’s also juggled different genres, while also leaning into more politically minded work. Earlier this year, he had a film, Pass Over, come out, which was adapted from the stage as well. That’s all without mentioning that naturally Lee has a past dealing with historical figures. That’s falls in line with Frederick Douglass NOW, which itself brings a close on a trilogy of pieces. Lee previously captured Smith’s work with Rodney King and A Huey P. Newton Story. So, don’t go in expecting anything traditional here. That doesn’t mean it will be any less captivating. Lee proved he can do a lot with something seemingly simple, as he did in the Kwame Ture speech, in Blackkklansman.
Frederick Douglass himself is an individual whose name constantly pops up occasionally, more often in the literary work, than that of film. Usually filling a secondary role, such as in Glory and North & South. Most may remember him as an escaped slave and abolitionist leader. Yet he was that and more, running a newspaper, writing several autobiographies, as well as a noted orator. He was even a big feminist supporter too. Here though, the focus is on his words. Ones which echo just as strongly today, as they did when original uttered.
There’s no word yet on how this will be released, but since Rodney King was put out on Netflix, there’s a chance that Frederick Douglass NOW would follow suit. We’ll update you, if more information becomes available. Spike Lee’s latest, BlacKkKlansman is currently available on VOD.