which was how Spike Lee was quoted after Denzel didn't win the Oscar for best Actor of that year. I agree, and when you consider that Denzel did win a Oscar for Training Day. you have to wonder what denotes a great performance. This is a MUST-SEE film for people who a)Think that all Malcolm X represented was violence, a history of drug Dealing, ex-con b) That think that people can't change and c) the power of education. It is a long film, but didn't feel that way to me(I saw it twice at the cinema, and was moved to tears on both ocassions) Spike's Best film to date, which so far he has not surpassed.
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.
on 19 February 2008
This tells the story of Malcolm X, one of America's foremost figures in the black civil rights movement. The lead role is played beautifully by Denzel Washington, in the kind of charismatic perfomance we have come to expect from him.
Malcolm X is surely one of the most fascinating men in the history of free speech. Going from his boyhood in a racially predjudiced America to his adulthood, involved in crime, and then a stretch in prison, Malcolm is affected greatly by the racism he sees all around him, and then in prison, he becomes even more affected by the teachings of Elijah Mohammed, a Muslim scholar who spreads the teachings of Islam.
Through this, Malcolm becomes involved heavily in making speeches about the racism that black people in America have to endure. It is through one of these speeches that Malcolm meets his future wife, a young Muslim woman played superbly by Angela Bassett.
The speeches of Malcolm are so perfectly true and cutting that they infuriated many. Unfortunately the truth always hurts, and although I disagree with some of his terminolgy, such as 'devils', the points he was making were always incredibly relevant and near the bone. Hence he made many enemies.
Perhaps the greatest irony of all is that a man so often accused of condoning or inciting violence actually never led by the example of being violent, yet tragically died in a violent way. This makes Malcolm's story a very sad one, and his wise words will echo throughout history.
on 1 September 2015
As it happens in big films, with big moments come also less big ones.
It is an important film, that covers the most important figure and moment in black people history.
It is a cinematically rich film, where Spike adopts his most personal technique and touch to tell a almost Hollywoodian biopic.
And it is maybe the first time he meets and challenges a big Studios production, and partially embrace its language and storytelling standards.
Malcolm X has the grandeur that people like, in order to make it watchable and enjoyable to a wider audience, with inserts that come from independent cinema and from radical political views. Basically, Spike adopted Malcolm's strategy: "by any means necessary".
So we end up loving Malcolm, no matter if we were already on his side. Spike get through to us and shows us the man behind the persona, the mistakes and the long journey that took him to a rethink his life, through that captivating and understandable style, through a really inspired Denzel Washington, who seems very committed into his role, and through some powerful scenes that keep our focus on the unfolding story, to the point that we forgive the director for the excessive duration of the film (some scene, especially in the first half, could be shorter or called off).
The blu ray and the extra are excellent
on 30 November 2001
The combination of one of the greatest figures from the 20th century, a fine director in Spike Lee and an Oscar nominated performance from Denzel Washington should have resulted in a far better film than this. Don't get me wrong this is a good film but the book it is adapted from, 'The Autobiography of Malcolm X' written with Alex Haley is one of the greatest books I have ever read. At over three hours it is true that this is a long film but it does still skip over a lot of Malcolm's earlier life and the conversion he goes through on his pilgrimage. So I recommend the film for Washington's performance if nothing else but with the book you get a far greater insight into the life of Malcolm X. Just to add I think a real opportunity has been missed with the DVD release. The inclusion of a theatrical trailer aside there are no extra features. Director's commentary, Malcolm X footage and interviews could have really made this DVD.
on 30 July 2012
Information about subtitles is far too often lacking in the product details on Amazon. This Blu-ray disc comes with the following subtitles: English, Brazilian Portuguese, Danish, French, Finnish, Latin Spanish, Norwegian and Swedish.
on 31 October 2001
Two of the film's storytelling techniques that function beautifully are the film's opening and closing sequences which tie Malcolm X's life to events in the present using footage of the Rodney King beating at the beginning and closing with schoolchildren in Soweto. Also not to be underestimated is Denzel Washington's brilliant incarnation of Malcolm X and Al Freeman, Jr.'s uncanny portrayal of Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm X is a fiery, intelligent movie that may not appear as challenging or controversial as some of Lee's previous works. But this movie does something different. Though at times it borders on the hagiographic, Malcolm X is remarkably faithful to the essence of the man -- his anger, his sly wit, his perpetual growth. In the course of its lengthy running time, it captures so very much and thus, the movie's pure pedagogical value cannot be underestimated. It's the type of project whose cultural value will, no doubt, increase x-ponentially.
on 24 August 2012
The film captures Mr. X's childhood, adolescence and then growing up to be a man and becoming more mature and open-minded. It's a shame he died at such a young age, leaving behind 4 little girls and a wife who was pregnant with twins. It is also a shame that many and I mean the press in particular, still to this day and onwards, label him as a "hate-monger". Now, the fact is that only those that are ignorant enough are blinded by the lying dogs. I will say no more about the film but if you have read about Malcolm X, and want to see a refreshing image of him, then this film delivers just that. I'll end my review with what brother Malcolm X said at the end of his autobiography, "To come right down to it, if I take the kind of things in which I believe, then add to that the kind of temperament that I have, plus the one hundred per cent dedication that I have to whatever I believe in - these are ingredients which make it just about impossible for me to die of old age ... I know that societies have often killed the people who have helped to change those societies. And if I can die having brought any light, having exposed any meaningful truth that will help to destroy the racist cancer that is malignant in America - then, all of the credit is due to Allah. Only the mistakes have been mine."
on 16 August 2011
For those who are unfamiliar with the real message that Malcolm X struggled so hard to convey, Spike Lee's film puts it in the most simplistic form, yet makes it imperative for your eyes to be glued the television. This film shows us a complete transformation of a man ethically, morally and spiritually, and it is amazing how throughout its entirety you are made to believe that Denzel Washington is Malcolm X. This has got to be Washington's finest ever performance with a catalog of awards being handed to him as testimony. A great film to add to any collection as it is one of those that can be watched over and over again. Simply a must see!
on 30 January 2014
This is one of the all time great performances and portrayals of a historical figure by a young Denzel Washington. Denzel is simply immense in this film, and this surely must rank amongst his greatest ever performances. He excellently portrays the life of a truly remarkable and fascinating figure in Malcolm X, going into real detail and giving the viewer a real insight into his life and time period. I would recommend this as essential viewing to anyone interested in Malcolm X, and particularly any students studying this area of Civil Rights, it really will provide a great overview of this period and plenty of detail around the key moments in the life of Malcolm X.