Malcolm X (1992) Poster


User Reviews

Add a Review
164 Reviews
Sort by:
An unforgettable and moving biopic for a brief time capsule to the sixties.
Tyson Hunsaker4 October 2017
"Malcom X" is an epic and historical biopic of Malcom X and the most prominent years of his influence as a public figure for race in America. Above anything else, "Malcom X" feels like a character piece considering the film's fine attention to the character's gradual and believable change throughout the movie.

Helmed by Spike Lee, this nearly three and a half hour film covers Malcom X's life as a public figure on race, supremacy, and then equality. The audience is treated to one of the best and most devoted Denzel Washington performances ever put to celluloid and solid acting from the rest of the cast.

While the film takes a few liberties and might feel biased at times, the epic dives into several important aspects of the character's life which makes this a character piece above anything else. Yes the film explores race in an in-depth and thorough way.

Anyone interested in an epic and historical look at one of the most controversial figures in U.S. history, "Malcom X" offers a one of a kind experience that is unforgettable.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Good historical film with strong cast
jb_campo16 September 2017
Denzel anchors this biopic about the life of activist Malcolm X. You learn about his young beginnings, youthful upbringing, how he became transformed into the Islamic leader, then his eventual disillusionment and further transformation.

This story was a fascinating view with strong acting by Denzel. He seems to thrive in characters where he can go a little over the top though, and at times, that can get a bit tiring, much like in the more recent Fences, where his non-stop action is something you cannot keep up with. Malcolm X was a bit like that, but you saw that Malcolm had a deliberateness and an immediacy to his actions that pushed action.

The setting was inner city with excellent costumes. His friend shorty and his other crew grew up to support and eventually adore Malcolm, but he also gained enemies. As his views started to venture from the strict Islam line, he created enemies.

The film got a bit slow at times, but Angela Basset as his girl helped bring a nice evenness to the plot by solidly standing by her man thru thick and thin.

This movie was a fascinating view of how a person can change colors, while always still doing the right thing according to their convictions. Such morals as Islam play a big role in our world today. Watching Malcolm X will help you understand how there can be good parts to it, but also abuses of it that are not good.

I hope you enjoy Malcolm X.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Denzel al the way
jerrym-2598927 August 2017
A stunning performance by Denzel Washington (Oscar-nominated) carries this film literally into cinematic excellence. He stars as the titled character, the controversial Black Nationalist Leader who is easily one of the most interesting people who lived during the 20th Century. Spike Lee's uncompromising direction focuses on X's life. From his very early childhood to his violent death, the audience is given lots and lots information on the character as the film runs about 195 minutes. A good supporting cast helps, but this is Washington's show from the very start. His performance is very dominant and this is easily one of the best jobs that was never honored with an Academy Award. Brilliant biopic. 5 stars out of 5.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The mental and cultural migration from America to Africa
Warning: Spoilers
Meaningful. I want to discuss and debate so much the movie designed by Spike Lee, and discover what he is able to teach us, the character of this movie's title. Malcolm X. This time Denzel Washington was not a policeman, he portrayed a sinner in the abrahamic religions sense of the term, who has become almost a saint, demonstrating that the Afro-American community has his own destiny to draw, and can get out of the fate that the WASPs have created for them into the United States society. His belief, the religion revealed to him, made him born again and at last a martyr for all the causes he has defended for his conception of justice, as Islam and Afro-American community civil and political rights. This man have inspired so many men and women, in the twentieth century it has begun with Garvey and Earl Little, his father, and it continues with King, Park, Mandela, the Black Panthers, the Afro-Americans, the Africans of all tribes till now, and another cultures. Faithful combat, spiritually and ideologically ; black nationalism, panafricanism. I loved when he talked about mental and cultural colonization of Afro-Americans and Africans, and the mental and cultural migration from America to Africa. I was also impressed by how he was depicted in the second part of the movie, rightful in all means, the type of man who was not perfect but seemed perfect, a true leader, someone who would have been necessary for a time like our. A man who have transformed many lives for their own reconstructions as individuals.

But there is a contradiction when he said that, while he talked about, after his pilgrimage, to have all races, one humanity connected to one god. Nation of Islam and Sunnism were wrong, because the true religion of Africans, are ethnics religions, all expressed with different languages in each geographical place. Not an universalism like Islam, and the language who had served itself to colonize the non-Arabs, and non-Muslims, because the said holy language was the Arabic. And before the slavery of black people processed by Europeans, Turks, Arabs and Persians have made exactly the same, and they were all Muslims. The true language of Malcolm X must have been one of the thousand from the thousand ethnies and lands of West Africa. And because his ancestors were natives of certain lands of Africa, he was a native of the nature which makes these lands, any dualist-transcendental-metaphysical-idealistic thing.

Moreover, some like Black Panthers have understood that capitalism was also a colonization and that is for that reason that the situation cannot change in Africa : Private interests conduced by business and occidental states are stealing their lands, all their resources. They pay African people for nothing, but sell it for much. The militaries or politicians are receiving by them all power and money in exchange of the control of their people, within national borders made by these occidental states long before the said independence of Africa. The brains are going to occidental universities, are abandoning their own languages for English or french language, and became alienated by the market and western values, while the poorest try to survive in his own country with hungry, sickness, death, wars, or to pass the sea to European Union abandoning his own culture in the depth of the sea or in an occidental city ghetto.

What do you think it's teaching us? The mental and cultural colonization of Afro-Americans and Africans, and the mental and cultural migration from America to Africa.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Malcolm X disappoint...Denzel doesn't!!!
To see this kind of political movie l always put a foot behind about the main character...l was very anxious to see this movie that l'd missed in the past about this iconic person,but after watched the picture l was entire disappointed with Malcolm X the character,he was involved by a bunch of haters whom preaching against non black people...very frustrating when he meets a white girl who doesn't have any racial prejudice asking him if could help in some way he replay "absolute nothing!!!...after he was banned by the leaders he goes to Meca and became a new person...apart the history the movie is fantastic even directed for a person like Spike and what he think about black's rights Lee whom is very similar with Spielberg about Jews's rights l'm very carefully about both...besides the movie is very impressive portraying the real life this controversial afro-American religious leader....Denzel deserves all kind of honor for a stunning performance as always....l recommend the movie only...not the real Malcolm X!!!


First watch: 2017 / How many: 1 / Source: DVD / Rating: 8
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Long, Slow, Too Wordy And Biased
denis88826 April 2017
Denzel Washington is a swell, pure gold actor, he can save and grace any movie he is in, and yes, he is great here, but this endless, unimaginable 3 hour and a half mammoth kills all his endeavors and assets burying them under a lead stone sheet of pretentiousness, boredom, and what is the worst offender, a very heavyweight preachy tone which becomes more and more acidic sour and then simply makes you cringe and run for some lightweight family comedy. What is also wrong? Bad pacing, very badly conceived flashback scenes and a very very tedious plot. Generally, such films are often a victim of their own weight - they sink like a marble brick, and they are too wordy. Like here, it is the same endless amount of smart speeches and oratories, but after two hours you feel a strong desire to switch to Mr. Bean or Benny Hill. Malcolm X was not a good man and he fell a victim of his own faith, we know that, and what he preached was wrong. So, no matter how much Spike Lee and Denzel tried, they failed to make us like this cold, ruthless, icy man of no sorrow. I felt no sorrow either for him or for his work, and the documentary footage of great late Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr only proved how much better this Baptist minister was than that loud and brash preacher. The film only hit the nail on the right head
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
admirable work
Kirpianuscus26 March 2017
it escapes from each desired verdicts. or definitions. not only for the admirable performance of Denzel Washington but for the inspiration of Spike Lee to explore, with grace and precision, a not real comfortable way of a symbol of American XX century history. and the result is great. for the nuances and for the science to give a realistic portrait of society more than of man. for the admirable courage to not build a statue to a hero but to show the evolution of a honest, vulnerable man. for give the picture of an American society for who the radical positions are result of a huge pressure. and to use the shadows for a clear image of a leader and his powerful convictions.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Movie With A Purpose
Warning: Spoilers
I think most of us have the wrong opinion of who and what Malcolm X was about. This movie channels the spirit & soul of the man from his youth to his death. It gives us a more clear picture of who he was, how he thought, and why he responded the way he responded. Spike Lee does an excellent job as director in portraying Malcolm X according to the Autobiography written by Alex Haley. For all those wondering if this is worth viewing, no this, it is not a hate movie, but a film about the transformation of a man who wanted to have a positive influence and impact on our society and nation!
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Engrossing, detailed and fearless biopic
tomgillespie200219 November 2016
Malcolm X, Spike Lee's epic portrayal of the street hustler turned spokesman for the Nation of Islam who was assassinated at the age of 39, is undoubtedly the director's most assured, complex and mature film, but it is a wonder that it was ever made at all. Controversy began long before production even started, with heavy criticism laid on the fact that Norman Jewison was lined up direct what many, including Lee, felt was a project a black director should handle. When Jewison gracefully bowed out and Lee took over, many still felt that the polarising activist's life would somehow be whitewashed, labelling Lee a 'Buppie' (middle-class African-American).

The irony of many of the statements thrown at the biopic before it was even made was highlighted, and the resulting film was a 3 hour 20 minute testament to Lee's persistence at getting his hands on a story he had dreamt about making since film school. The studio had thrown in a budget for and insisted on a 2 hour 15 minute running time, but Lee, understanding that the contradictions and evolution of Malcolm's teachings and the many events and influences that helped shape the man demanded a longer running time. When the budget was exhausted, Lee called in for donations from the African-American community, and many of them obliged. Somehow, it's still too short to really get to heart of Malcolm, but it's certainly a far better film than it would have been had Lee not been so insistent at bringing his vision to the screen.

Malcolm's life was crammed with incident, and Lee does a decent job getting almost everything in. Flashbacks to his childhood, when his mother and father were tormented by the Ku Klux Klan and his family lived under the constant threat of death, are juxtaposed with his early life as a sharp-suited, ambitious numbers runner in Harlem known as Red, working underneath gangster West Indian Archie (Delroy Lindo). His actions soon land him in prison, where he meets Baines (Albert Hall), a fellow inmate working for Elijah Muhammad (Al Freeman Jr.) and the Nation of Islam. Baines teaches Malcolm that the drugs and alcohol he enjoys so much are simply ways for the white man to keep the black man in their place, and that the white man is, without exception, the devil. Malcolm leaves prison as Malcolm X, ditching the 'slave name' given to him by his ancestor's owners, and is transformed into an extremely enigmatic and convincing spokesman for the Nation of Islam.

The rush of excitement and danger of the opening third soon gives way to a more serious tone, as Malcolm's radical views on segregation under the watchful eye of 'the honourable' Elijah Muhammad makes him an incredibly controversial figure; loved, hated and feared in equal measure. Malcolm's popularity soon causes rifts and jealousy within the ranks of the Nation, and he sees the man who once took him under his wing become a deadly nemesis. His wife Betty Shabazz (Angela Bassett) receives threatening phone calls, and the family's house is set ablaze. Lee's technical discipline throughout these moments, especially for a director who usually embraces visual flourishes, ensures that a steady, gloomy momentum builds up towards Malcolm's eye-opening pilgrimage to Mecca and eventual murder.

A film of such emotional weight also calls for a great performance, and Denzel Washington delivers in spades. Even when Malcolm is at his most questionable, Washington imbues the character with the same charm, wit and magnetism that no doubt saw him sore through the ranks of the Nation and become loved by many. When the pace sags, and it frequently does, Washington manages to draw you back in with his effortless screen presence. The film manages to paint a well- rounded picture of a man who underwent a few radical changes in his life, thanks both to Lee's thoughtful approach and Washington's incredible performance. Lee does go slightly overboard with his worship of the man at the climax, as Ossie Davis reads a eulogy over a montage of children declaring "I am Malcolm X!" and a speech from Nelson Mandela, but this doesn't do too much damage to what is engrossing, detailed and fearless biopic of an inspirational man.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The first third bores, then Denzel soars
SlyGuy212 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
You see what I did there? Huh? Huh? Nevermind. All jokes aside though, the last 2/3 of the movie saves this from utter boredom. One complaint I have right off the bat is that the movie feels too long. And I don't mind long movies, my favorite movie is three hours long and I've seen the redux of "Apocalypse Now" twice. But unlike those movies, the first hour of "Malcolm X" is so slow it might as well be playing in reverse. I know it's there to show how he changes throughout the film, but I have an idea for you Mr. Lee. Start the movie with Malcolm getting arrested, then when he's in jail, have the first hour of this movie condensed to quick flashbacks with time-stamps. You'd get the story started at a higher pace, and then have time to explain the rest in short segments during Malcolm's incarceration. Make them each 10 minutes and boom, you're movie is now fifty minutes shorter and not on the verge of boring me to sleep. Do you know what the most boring movie I've seen is? "American Hustle". "American Hustle" was so boring to me, I thought I'd fallen asleep twice while watching it, and it was shorter than "Malcolm X". After the first hour, I thought I'd have another borefest to sit through. However, what good would my opinion be if I didn't finish the movie? So I decided to power through it, thankfully the rest of the film is more interesting.

First, there's Denzel Washington who, despite his performance, did not win the Oscar for Best Actor in 1993, it instead went to Al Pacino for "Scent of a Woman". Now, I haven't seen "Scent of a Woman" in years, but I remember Al Pacino in that movie, and Denzel could not have come closer to winning that award instead of him. I'm not gonna say he was snubbed or anything, because at least he was nominated. I'd rather be nominated for an amazing performance and not win, then not get nominated at all. But I digress, if nothing else watch the movie for Denzel, he gives an astounding performance.

The plot definitely picks up when Malcolm gets incarcerated. It shows him transform from a criminal, to a respected political and religious leader, and then finally, a wanted man. A man that's being hunted by people he at one point called "his brothers". This is where the drama kicks off, this is where the action kicks off, but more importantly this is where the story takes off. I don't know how realistic the portrayal of Malcolm X is in this, but the drama, character, and story are there. If this movie was just forty or fifty minutes shorter, I'd probably want to see it again. I may not want to see it again, but Denzel is phenomenal, if anything watch the last 2/3 of the movie (you won't miss the first hour at all).
1 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Inspirational, educational and powerful
Atheer Omar10 May 2016
First hour was just unnecessary long. Could have been concluded in 10 to 15 min. The transitional period in prison was where the film kicked in and never let go. As Muslim I was also provided by an unexpected message. Religious sects and parties are susceptible to corruption of its members and initial message which would normally be built upon some truth to reach the masses. At the end its not God whom they serve but their own goals and interests. Malcoom X was among the few who realized this corruption and broke free from it but everything comes at a price! May Allah reward him for what he's done. This is also true and would apply to other religious communities.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Becoming a revered public figure
sol-21 February 2016
Right from the opening credits in which an American flag slowly burns to form a letter 'X', this biography of the title human rights activist from Spike Lee is riveting viewing throughout. The film's strongest asset is Denzel Washington's lead performance; he undergoes several character progressions throughout as the film documents his whole transformation from convicted criminal to angry protester to revered public figure. The film benefits from some magnificent editing too with well-melded, dreamlike childhood flashbacks, a clever cutaway in which Washington imagines throw a cake in a condescending young man's face and some very deliberate cutting in a scene in which he looks up the definitions of 'black' and 'white' in the dictionary (probably the most potent part of the entire movie). The Oscar nominated costumes (zoot suits in particular) are great too. What does not quite work so well though is Lee's choice to unabashedly celebrate the title character. The sentimental epilogue seems ill-judged. Also, given how callous Malcolm is shown at times (coldly telling a sympathetic young white woman that she cannot do anything to help his cause) and how close-minded he is on certain issues, he always seems like more a deeply flawed man with his heart in the right place than a leader worthy of Lee's celebratory treatment. Never to mind, the film is engaging the whole way through, regardless of how one views the title character, with nary a boring moment to be had - which is a quite remarkable achievement for a that film clocks in at over three hours in length.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Spike Lee Masterpiece?
gavin694230 August 2015
Biographical epic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader (Denzel Washington), from his early life and career as a small-time gangster, to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam.

I think people would generally say "Do the Right Thing" is Spike Lee's masterpiece, but that film is challenging and hard to swallow at times. That may make it powerful and artistic, but it is hard to compete with "Malcolm X", which tells true history and explains much about the black man's plight in America. And with Denzel Washington, one of the greatest actors, in the lead, it is hard to deny its wide appeal.

Lee is a great director for pushing "black cinema" (if such a thing exists). And this is the film that really makes it real, gets to the heart of what is wrong with how mainstream (white) society treats the black man. This should be required viewing.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Read the book too!
drazsika-716-81482018 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I watched the movie recently after reading the book on which the movie's based: Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley. Probably the movie would have been more exciting and would have kept my attention more if I had watched the movie first.

While the book is a life changing one (nominated by The Times as one of the 10 most important books of the 20th century) the movie has more and less successful parts in portraying Malcolm's life.

While it catches your attention and does a great job showing the youth of Malcolm, in my opinion it fails to present the many long years he spent in prison and developed a widespread knowledge that allowed him to become a great debater from close to no education before and only showed flashes from his 12 years spent in the Nation of Islam. Still, the movie's 3,5 hour long - little too long for me.

After reading the book I felt he was a great teacher and fighter for human and minority rights while after watching the movie I had the feeling that he indeed preached hate - as many of his critics claimed.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
fascinating figure from a great actor
SnoopyStyle12 June 2015
During the war years in Boston, Malcolm Little (Denzel Washington) and his friend Shorty (Spike Lee) are zoot suit wearing, hair-straightening negroes about town. His father was a preacher in Nebraska urging a return to Africa and killed by the KKK. His mother was born to a black woman raped by a white man. He is taken by Sophia (Kate Vernon) and gangster West Indian Archie (Delroy Lindo). He leaves his innocent black girlfriend and goes into a life of crime. Malcolm and Shorty are imprisoned for 10 years of hard times. In prison, he is befriended by Baines who introduces him to Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam. He falls in love with Dr. Betty Shabazz (Angela Bassett).

Director Spike Lee dives into a fascinating historical figure with the great Denzel Washington. His charisma is perfectly translated and transformed on the screen. That's not to say there are no problems in this movie. The pacing is a little slow at times. I don't want Spike Lee to act in this movie. It's too much of a distraction. Spike does lay out his life very well and leaves it up to audience to some extent on what his life truly means. The movie probably needs somebody with less reverence to be more merciless in the editing room.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
This is a baaad movie.
wolfteeth2331 May 2015
No disrespect to Malcolm X, I admire him so I watched this movie and I didn't like it. After watching this I decided that I don't like Spike Lee's movies, he's a bad director. I haven't liked one of his movies yet.

What's with the long dancing scenes at the beginning of the movie? The end is so melodramatic, I'm pretty sure it's Spike Lee's voice saying why you should respect Malcolm X... nobody cares what your vision of life is, rather tell me a story and then you can catch my attention , but the voice over spoils it. It's also ridiculously long and it's unnecessary.

Sorry Spike, you had to stay more centered to tell a good story, you couldn't shape your admiration for this man into a fine movie.
4 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
There Are Issues Here That I Don't Buy
eric2620038 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Directed by Spike Lee, this over-budgeted very lengthy biopic, "Malcolm X" tells most of every facet of his life as he begins as a gangster to becoming a Muslim convert, to becoming an outspoken African- American who wanted to believe that his fellow people should never be afraid to stand up to themselves and to be happy with the skin they have.

In the early scenes we see Malcolm X (Denzel Washington) starting out as a criminal under his accomplice named West Indian Archie (Delroy Lindo). He starts by robbing houses along with his assistant Shorty (Spike Lee) and joining his for the ride is a hot young blond named Sophia (Kate Vernon) with whom he chooses as a love interest over a much well-behaved African-American girl named Laura (Theresa Randle).

Later on, Malcolm ends up incarcerated and opposing the Biblical teachings from Chaplain Gill (Christopher Plummer) and seems more on the side of African-American Muslim convert Baines (Albert Hall). Once he's discharged, he become the top followers of the Nation of Islam under the influence of Elijah Muhammad (Al Freeman Jr.)

Malcolm X becomes a charismatic celebrity, which the white press so arbitrarily decided to lash out controversy towards this young radical. As his bravado increased proportionately, the Nation of Islam became very envious about it while the Nation of Islam becomes a part of a scandal involving Elijah's illegitimate children.

Malcolm eventually married Dr. Betty Shabazz (Angela Bassett) and raise three wonderful daughters. He then makes a religious journey to Mecca and declares that not all Caucasians are not entirely evil. When he returns to America, he breaks ties with the Nation of Islam and establishes a rival church that fits the modern spirit at the time. The Nation of Islam did not take this very well and at the Audubon Hotel in Manhattan on February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was beginning a speech when a disturbance takes shape, Malcolm tries to calm everybody down and was gunned down (one of the shooters was his former friend Baines).

The movie itself was very high in terms of budget in spite of the very gargantuan production costs. Denzel was nominated at the Oscars for Best Actor in a leading role, but sadly was ousted by Al Pacino for his role in "Scent of a Woman." Washington had to wait several years before winning the Leading Actor Oscar in the film "Training Day."

The film itself was quite accurate in the time period clothes making it very authentic and the lingo spoken by the characters was very appropriate during the time period. The costume design was also in Oscar contention as well. The other high point was that many scenes were very well filmed, especially the uproar during Malcolm X's assassination.

Sure it was praised by many including myself, there are still quite a few issues that didn't sit very well with me. Some of these were small nit-pickings while others were much more bigger that truly hindered the film from being anything but perfect.

Where to start was the singing performance by Miki Howard, who was supposed to play the part of Billie Holiday, but her voice doesn't even come close to even sounding like her. Anybody who listens to jazz and Big Band music know Holiday's familiar voice. It wouldn't have hurt if she just lip-synched from a Holiday soundtrack and it would have been more convincing. Lee really should have known better.

The more obvious falsifications come from the character Sophia. She's hanging out at an all black girls nightclub and just freely throws herself in Malcolm's arms with no indication as to he is. I'm sorry but that is very illogical. It's just a scene designed to get male viewers' attention. It would never happen to you even if you have Washington's looks.

It seems strange that the Nation of Islam has a hostile attitude to Washington who at the time looked decent, well-caring family man who loved his wife and kids. Did he munch on pork rinds at the time? Who knows?

Another unanswered question stems from the scene where he stands up the cops after they unmercifully beat the tar out of a black man. Malcolm brings in a group of identically dressed black men to await for his command. Where did he find them and how did they fall into his lead? And what's the purpose of them acting like soldiers? To me they're there to look cool behind the camera if nothing else.

And finally I must wonder what does Malcolm X himself truly stand for? He transforms from a thief in his early years, to a radical Islamic radical and finally reconsiders his thoughts long enough and before you know it he's murdered. Sure his mission was to for equality, but his execution was more radical rather than peaceful. He was separated from most of his life and wanted his fellow people not to anticipate with anything the white majority did and joined a church who eventually turned against him by having him killed.

These quibbles are what brought this movie down. I think some editing should have been greatly desired as this movie went on too long and many scenes needed further explanation. But other than that, the performances were excellent an Washington acted his heart here as the the other performers. But the illogical scenarios brought this film down from being an absolute masterpiece.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Malcolm X Review
p-leipold19 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Malcolm X serves as great companion to the original text. The autobiography provides an extremely detailed overview of Malcolm's life but lacks any feeling. The film corrects this by injecting emotion into the story. Spike Lee creates a narrative that is easier for the viewer to follow and relate with Malcolm. However, the film had to sacrifice a lot of information provided in the autobiography. Many parts that I thought were important, such as Malcolm's family, were left out in the interest of time. Even then the film is around 3 hours long and feels more like two films in one. This might have been done by Lee to emphasize the change in Malcolm's life before and after prison. In the first part of the film, Lee applies a soft focus to the camera. The soft focus clouds the screen and might have been a representation of Malcolm's unclear thoughts about life before he went to prison. Another example of Lee's cinematography is when Malcolm submits to Islam while in prison. Malcolm is completely covered by shadows with a light piercing through the cell bars. This could represent the moment Malcolm ridded himself of his sinful identity (shadows) and embraced Allah (light). The acting in the film was phenomenal, especially Denzel Washington's performance as Malcolm X. Washington not only looked the part but seemed to fully portray the essence of Malcolm. When I read the novel, Washington was exactly how I imagined Malcolm X to look and act. My only other issue with the movie was the final scene with the schoolchildren and Nelson Mandela. While it was interesting, it felt disjointed from the rest of movie and was distracting. In all the film was great and can definitely stand on its own but I feel the best experience is to pair reading the novel and watching the film.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
After finding Islam in prison Malcolm X begins his path to becoming the second most powerful man in the Nation of Islam.
Michael Garcia8 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Spike Lee's adaptation of the Autobiography of Malcolm X is a masterpiece that brings the world's understanding and connection to Malcolm one step closer. Spike Lee's use of filter changes and diegetic sound through the course of the film portrays Malcolm's change in consciousness and the direction of his life. In the first part of the movie we see Malcolm's life as a young man and later a hustler. Colors are seen as bright and vivid which adds to a cartoonish sense of his actions in this part of his life. The conking and zoots suits all seem surreal as to portray Malcolm's reflection of his past. Behind these scenes, jazz music is constantly playing as if the backdrop of a cartoon. In the novel, Malcolm explains that he now knows how such things were all apart of the white man's power over blacks and sees his past as childish. Spike lee later illustrates the dramatic change of Malcolm's life when he is sent to prison, by changing the filter and making shots longer and a darker contrast. Spike Lee shows this darkness at a peak when Malcolm is locked in solitary confinement. The pitch black scene is frighting and the blinding that follows when the door is opened seems divine. Soon after he is brought out of the darkness, he finds Islam with the help of a fellow inmate. Spike Lee, with this use of dark and light contrast, as well as the removal of the diegetic jazz music, shows Malcolm X's change in his life and his path to Islam being his escape from the white man's oppression. I really appreciated this use of contrast to the previous scenes of his life as a hustler. Spike Lee through this contrast was able to present Malcolm's transformation more personally to the viewer than they would have if they had only read the autobiography. As the film progresses from then on, it is a more biographical, informative, representation of Malcolm's life but keeps the personal connection Spike Lee created in the first half intact with many close up shots of Malcolm X. When you reach the final death scene in the film, you truly feel the loss of an important man. The connection that Spike Lee creates with his film can not be overlooked and is only a part of what makes this film an amazing piece of art.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Well Done Indeed Mr. Lee
Jack Stannard8 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Spike Lee does a good job with this film. He uses different techniques to show different moods in the film such as the use of different colors. In the opening scene when Spike Lee is walking down the street and into the barber show the viewer can see a variety of bright, vibrant colors by making the sky bright, his clothing vivid and gives a soft focus to the lens. He does this to show the good times and the happy feelings that are going on in Boston without actually saying it. Also during the movie he uses different camera filters to film the same action by using black and white, like a TV would show. He does this to give whats going on a more real feel to the event in the movie to make it seem like it is more an actual event rather than just a film. However, my only concerns are that he hardly gives an exposition of his earlier life. Yes, he does touch on Malcolm's childhood but he doesn't really explain how his dad died or what he did during his teen years as a hustler. I understand that this movie is very long as it is however that period in his life had a large impact on his life going forward and what he believed in when he was an adult. This film mostly focuses on his life as an adult and an active member of the Nation of Islam. Other than skipping the first part of the book for the most part, he does a fine job at getting most of the details in the latter half of his life.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
I suggest reading the book. The movie is still fantastic
Josh Gronwold (jgronwold)8 December 2014
Spike Lee's Malcolm X is an outstanding example of a movie that stays to its source. However, I feel it is necessary to tell people that the novel written by Alex Haley with the help of Malcolm X is even more important than Lee's spectacular movie. In Lee's film, Malcolm never reaches the level of honesty that he does in the novel. Instead, Lee uses everything else in his arsenal to tell this compelling story. He tells most of Malcolm young life through flashbacks that just don't seem authentic and they feel rushed, but at the same time his use of color, lighting, and sound is phenomenal. The first third or so of the movie it runs through Malcolm's life as a hustler and during this time Lee uses very bright lighting and colors to give this part of the film a feeling of joy and it almost feels like it is to good to be true. However, in the novel there is a completely different feeling when reading it. You feel sorry for everything Malcolm had to go through as a child and reading about him making bad choices never really feels happy at all. Along with the color, Lee does an amazing job in large crowds. There is a scene when Malcolm arrives in New York and there is a huge gathering in the street and the camera zooms out but you never lose sight of Malcolm because he is the only one wearing somewhat bright clothes. Lee take on Malcolm being this beacon of light perhaps? If you are thinking about watching this movie I highly recommend it and it shouldn't be missed, but you shouldn't miss out on the novel as well. Each are very important stories told in different, but honest, ways.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Worth the Time to Watch
Hunter Samson8 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Malcolm X is a film, that while long, is very much worth the time to watch. The movie focuses on the adult life of Malcolm X, yet uses flashbacks to help the viewer understand his past as well. Although I did not find the scenes very effective as flashbacks, overall they served well to the purpose of the movie. Lee decided to portray his early life as a hustler glamorized tone. I found his techniques with camera movement to be effective, he used old Hollywood camera movements like crane shots, and sweeping tracking shots to give it this effect. This style was effective because old Hollywood films were meant to enchant the viewer as much as possible.

Although, I found the most effective part of the movie to be the opening credits. Denzel Washington's reenactment of Malcolm X's speech about charging the white man with his injustices is voiced over the American flag slowly burning into an X. Interspersed throughout is footage of Rodney King being beaten by Los Angeles police. This, to me, was the most moving scene in the film as the words are so powerful and the image of the US flag burning is jarring for Americans. Even more jarring was the footage of King being brutally beaten. The combination of these things drew me in as a viewer because it was shocking.

The film overall is split into three parts, Malcolm's early adulthood as a hustler, his discovery of Islam and his preachings for Elijah Muhammad, and his self discovery and preachings after his "hajj" to the Middle East and Mecca. I found his early adult life prolonged and dragged out, but the rest of the film I found effective and important to Malcolm's story. As I had said earlier, if you have the time to watch it, it is a film much worth your time. Denzel Washington's performance is spectacular, and Spike Lee uses a lot of interesting techniques to portray Malcolm's story emotionally and sends the message he lived for very well.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Great film.
thornton-clin8 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The film Malcolm X is extremely well done and a must see movie for any American citizen. Spike Lee does a spectacular job directing this film; he uses amazing lighting techniques throughout the film, Lee first uses a high-key glow behind the white woman that Malcolm notices when he is on a date with his black girlfriend. This high-key glow behind Sophia makes her look angelic and almost like a trophy, Lee uses this type of lighting on Sophia to make the viewer feel just as intrigued by Sophia as Malcolm does. Lee then uses a foggy filter with extremely dim lighting during most of Malcolm's life as a hustler. Lee uses this powerful technique to emphasize how cloudy Malcolm's judgment was at that point in his life. When Malcolm is sentenced to prison the lighting changes almost drastically, Lee shows Malcolm sitting in a cell with absolutely no light this technique allows the viewer to feel just as lost as Malcolm. Lee then uses high-key lighting to shine on Malcolm when the door is opened. The high-key lighting in this scene is used as a turning point in Malcolm's life and a symbol of Elijah Muhammad. Elijah Muhammad was first introduced to Malcolm in the shower where sound played in unison with the lighting. Lee uses diegetic sound in this scene, you hear the sound of the shower water slamming against the ground, and the ground is acting as a resistance to the flow of the water just as Malcolm is acting as a resistance to the nation of Islam. Once again Lee did an amazing job on this film and every American should take a few hours out of their life to watch it, because it gives us a better grasp and realization on the truth of our nation's history.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Must See for Everyone
Cashe McGowan (cashemcg)8 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Spike Lee's Malcolm X is one of the most influential and underrated films in our history, now I don't want to say that it is the best movie I've ever seen nor Spike Lee's best film but it is one that deserves appreciation and recognition. Spike Lee allows the viewers a chance to look into the actual life of Malcolm X. There are many misconceptions swirling around the life of Malcolm X but this movie gives a clearer view of his actual life before his activism for the black community. Although Lee eliminates a majority of his childhood from the film he compensates by expanding his adult life.

Lee's soundtrack is one that moves the movie in many different directions and every song has meaning and emotion behind it. Malcolm's hustler days are accompanied by upbeat jazz music, while his time is jail has no music at all, in the time close to his death Sam Cook's iconic "A Change is Gonna Come", is played shorty before. These and many other choices in music are used to convey a whirlwind of emotions and send the viewer on a journey with Malcolm as apposed to the disconnect some receive with the novel, where readers feel like they are being preached to.

There is also a great use of long shots in the film, especially when there are large groups of people. In these long shots Malcolm is always seen, and easily identified. Lee allows the viewers to get a sense of how large the movement was along with the chance to see how important Malcolm was to the movement as a whole. Lee focuses on the Nation of Islam and the experience in Mecca was one that made Malcolm X seem as regular as you and I and not this iconic figure.

Overall the film does what it's supposed to do, given the time restraints. Lee and the actors, Denzel Washington especially, do a great job of allowing the legacy of Malcolm X to live on. This is why the last 5-10 minutes are so beneficial as they capture flashes of life before and after his death. It personally stirs a immense amount of emotion within me and is a timeless film that I'd never forget.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Very Influential movie
manolamarco8 December 2014
Spike Lee's Malcolm X is one of the most influential movies made to this day. It covers one of the most controversial figures in U.S history and tells his story bravely. Although it does it very differently from the book, I would say it does a better job. The book is honest and helps you get to know Malcolm and understand his point of view, and why he is who he is. While the movie captures the emotion and shows what an inspirational figure Malcolm X really is. Spike Lee does a great job of staying true to the story, but at the same time you like Malcolm more in the movie. Lee uses a lot of Lowkey lighting in the first half of the movie and filters to give this Hollywood-Esq feel to the movie. Personally I did not find this effective and thought the movie lacked a lot of content at the beginning. The way his childhood flashbacks were showed was not effective as well. Quick transitions into them and very fast pacing during them. Its not until Malcolm goes to jail when the movie becomes alive. The intense natural lighting with the darks, reflects Malcolm's mood as he is lost in life and wonders what is next in life for him. Spike Lee's most noticeable technique is his very long movement shots. The shot were brother Bane is talking to the inmates in Jail outside was one of the best shots in the whole movie in my opinion. Its a long tracking shot going left to right, as he speaks to them. Its a medium shot that views only their face and some of their body language. It is very effective as you view how Bane's words affect these inmates. Although the first half was questionable, the second half of the movie does a spectacular job of recovering and I think you can easily look past it.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews