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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great film, of a great, but misunderstood, man., 2 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Malcolm X [DVD] [1992] (DVD)
I watched this film years ago, and felt moved by it. I recently bought it on Amazon and just watched it last night. First off, I might say that the film is a long one but needs to be, in the same way Richard Attenborough's 'Gandhi' is long and David Lean's 'Lawrence of Arabia' is long; it needed to be long to convey this highly interesting man's life and all the complexities and even contradictions of Malcolm X's life. Why should a white working class person from England really be interested in a black working class guy from America anyway? Well, why not? Malcolm X the film stands comparison with the two films I just mentioned because Malcolm X is an important person in the history of civil rights in America and perhaps the whole world.

Malcolm, in his life, went from being a tough thug and former jailbird, into a civil rights leader for his people, with an extremely sharp brain and some of the most uncompromising and electrifying speeches you've ever heard. It's been said that Martin Luther King was a man of peace and Malcolm was a man of war, but I feel that both men were two sides of the same coin, and when it really boils down to it, were 'fighting' for the same thing, which was emancipation for black people in America, all kinds of emancipation, certainly economic emancipation.

There is a kind of feeling that comes to me from the time of Malcolm X; America was changing and all kinds of people, not just black people, were beginning to feel that they deserved a bigger slice of the pie and demanding fairness and equality and perhaps most importantly economic justice so that it wasn't just white middle and upper class people who could live well and prosper but everybody. The same things were probably happening in Britain but on a more understated level. For me quite simply, when black people and other ethnic minorities stand up for their rights and their social justice, it can also be about ALL people who are oppressed, in one way or the other, fighting for their rights. In America, it was much about racism and probably still is, in Britain, although I won't tell you there isn't racism here because there is, it can also be about class. In Britain, like many other countries, certain white people are allowed to prosper, perhaps because they have been to private schools and they talk with the 'right' accent and know the 'right' people and are connected or have influence in one way or the other; if you aren't part of this clique you are meant to accept it and fight for the crumbs of the rich man's table. Malcolm X teaches me that we all have dignity and we all have the right to challenge oppression wherever we find it, and especially in our own lives.

So, the movie. A really good film, notwithstanding its length, and one that I could watch again and again. Denzel Washington is absolutely convincing as Malcolm X and is as usual enormously charismatic in the role. The film goes from Malcolm's early life to the very end, where he is assassinated whilst giving a speech. It is a sad end of an amazing life. As the film, and Malcolm's life progresses, there is the feeling that Malcolm is shedding his skin; he sheds the skin of his life of crime to re-educate himself in prison and then becomes an apostle of the honourable Elijah Muhammad; he sheds his skin again after feeling badly let down by Muhammad, and becomes a free spirit. He goes to Mecca and finds that all kinds of people, of all different colours including white, are all worshipping together. I feel this made a strong impact on him and he began to see all humanity, not just black people, as worthy of concern, love and consideration.

In the racial climate of America in those times, it could be easy to understand that someone black would despise white people and the mainstream white culture of America; it is then good to say that Malcolm X at the end of his life changed his perspective and had the courage of his doubts and convictions and began to see the bigger picture. He was a great man.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Jun 2013 21:16:05 BDT
Gary Selikow says:
And yet in this whole film there was still not one white character who was given a good representation.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2013 22:36:02 BDT
T. S. C. says:
You're right mate. I'm not a guilty Middle class liberal, I don't think that all oppressed minorities are somehow saintly because they are oppressed, there is good and bad in all certainly. What I get from Malcolm is that there was genuine seachange of opinion and he opened his eyes to a more complex reality; it wasn't, no pun intended, all black and white. Apart from this, it is just a great movie, one of the best biographies up there with Gandhi and Lawrence of Arabia IMHO.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jul 2013 17:24:23 BDT
Gary Selikow says:
I far more greatly admire Martin Luther King who genuinely stood for a society of equal opportunity, true humanitarianism and freedom for all-with no bitterness or rancour or racial politics

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Jul 2013 17:31:56 BDT
T. S. C. says:
Yeah I guess you're right, but you can at least understand where Malcolm was coming from when you look at his personal history. Yes, Martin was a genuine seeker of peace and reconciliation.
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T. S. C.
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Location: Somewhere in NW England.

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