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Malcolm X - Film Review

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by Juran Hakim (subscribe)
Lover of the written word. Contact me on Facebook -
Published December 13th 2014
Theatrical release poster

Directed by Spike Lee in 1992, starring Denzel Washington, Malcolm X is a biographical epic; depicting the influential yet controversial Black Nationalist Leader and former Nation of Islam minister, from his early life growing up in Harlem to his time spent as a muslim under Elijah Muhammad and finally as an orthodox muslim under the name El Hajj Malik Shabazz.

For those who weren't fortunate enough to meet Malcolm X, or perhaps fortunate enough to not live during times of such hostility; a time where black people were denied their civil rights, much is unknown or remains in doubt and confusion.

One shining beacon of information that shone on the life of Malcolm X was to be found in his autobiography written by Alex Haley published in 1965; the year he was assassinated. This book proved to be an excellent insight, influencing thousands of people long after he had passed.

The second beacon of light, albeit not as bright, proves to be the motion picture of his life, based upon the words and descriptions given in his autobiography. These two tools of communication have altered the way we see Malcolm X, as the majority of people see him as a leader, revolutionist and harbinger of self-respect and black pride.

Denzel Washington carries this film all the way, supported by a talented cast, his display of Malcolm X is uncanny, achieved through sheer talent. Spike Lee's direction takes the audience from Malcolm's early childhood; his teacher referring to him as a nigger in calmly fashion, to his time as a pimp/gangster in the roving streets of New York's Harlem - all the way to his untimely demise in the Audubon Ballroom at the hands of his assassins.

Not an easy task to get such a character as Malcolm X up on the big screen, Spike Lee struggled tremendously to achieve this; seeking funding from notable figures in black entertainment such as Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby and Magic Johnson.

Malcolm X, 1992 - is Lee's take on the ministers life - although he attained some focus upon the autobiography, Lee strayed from this path a few times - notably the exposition of the film where Lee drawls out about 20-30 minutes worth of dance into a scene.

It is apparent that Spike Lee's movie is for the people as opposed to the Motion Picture Academy Awards etc (though a worthy candidate). Malcolm X the book and film should be on the shelves of libraries throughout the country under the education/politics/religion/race/civil rights & history section.

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