95 of 104 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2005
While the movie itself is excellent, this is one of those DVDs that makes a great film even greater.
Much has been said about the 1992 film, so I'll concentrate on the extras. First of all, the widescreen is not so wide that it makes you squint to see it. It's at a good porportion. But the edited scenes are really interesting. We see previously unseen footage of Denzel as Malcolm courting Angela Bassett as Betty Shabazz (in a rather touching way). We see Denzel/Malcolm putting an initiate through the rigors in an amusing fashion, we see him studying and feeding his hunger for books while in jail, and we see some interesting scenes of Denzel/Malcolm making anti-racist and pro-brotherhood statements near the end of his life to a young white girl and an Arab he meets in Mecca. A lot of people who miss the point about Malcolm's transformation should see those scenes (which actually appear in the original book).
(Slight complaint, the stuff about the Sphinx's black nose being shot off by Napoleon is a bunch of BS that didn't happen, even Molefi Asante admitted this on 60 minutes a few years ago. So it's just as well that that scene was not included in the original film).
Also, "Baines" was actually John Bembry, aka Bimbi, who encouraged Malcolm to read in prison. It was actually Malcolm's real life brothers who really introduced him to the Nation of Islam teachings. Not a complaint, just a clarification.
There is also an excellent documentary about the making of this film. A real Horatio Alger type story of how Spike beat the odds through dogged determination to raise the money to make the film the way he felt it needed to be made. It was sad to realize that the film was not as popular as hoped among young people upon it's intitial release and the "Malcolmania" of the early 90s turned out to be a fad, but at least this DVD will give people the opportunity to learn from Malcolm's story.
Then there is the uncut 1972 documentary "Malcolm X. The raw, uncut REAL Malcolm talking strong and taking numbers! This is a brilliantly edited collection of chronological clips of Macolm, Elijham Muhammad, the young Louis Farrakhan, and all the other major players into an excellent biography without additional narration. It lets the viewer decide in an excellet fashion.
So see the 1992 movie, then the "making of" documentary, then the deleted scenes, and THEN the 1972 documentary and you'll get the next best thing to reading all there is to know about Malcolm X thought. Enjoy it, I did. College and high school teachers will REALLY want this for their history classes.
82 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2000
One of the most brilliant films ever made. Another reviewer, E. Hazell is correct, if maybe even understated in comparing this film with von Sydow's portrayal of Jesus in "The Greatest Story Ever Told" and B. Kingsley in "Ghandi". Without question, the portrayal by Denzel Washington of Malcolm X belongs with these two classic efforts.
The screenplay closely follows Alex Haley's collaboration with Malcolm X on his autobiography, from his early days as a hustler and pimp, to his transformation and his rise to prominence in the Black Muslims and beyond. In so doing, it traces much of the history of the twentieth century African American experience
As another reviewer so inelegantly (and ungrammatically) put it, Malcolm Little sold drugs and women, robbed and lived in the underworld. However, this recognizes far less than half of this compelling and incredible story. This beginning was important only to underscore how far he ultimately came, and leads the viewer to wonder what would have happened had he not been murdered.
Wonderful casting including Angela Bassett as his wife Betty, DelRoy Lindo and particularly Al Freeman Jr. as Elijah Muhammad. It was a rather predictable crime that Spike Lee, Denzel Washington and this film did not dominate the Academy Awards.
28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2005
Malcolm, like any young african-american boy in a time of racial hatred, did not have it easy growing up. In fact he did not have it easy when he was in his teens to early twenties. Nor did he have it easy when he was an adult. Yet at least by his adult age he understood this and what his father had been fighting for. So with his Islamic conversion in prison, he set out to change the world as best as he sought, and, thanks to this film and the autobiography it was based on, we can now truly understand this struggle, inner and outer, for justice, liberty, and the pursuit of all to have happiness.
Now, to narrow in on the film and not just the man, Spike Lee really outdid himself this time. With Denzel Washington, traditionally a great actor, playing Malcolm X you knew the movie would at least be spearheaded with strength. But this is more then that, because the elaborateness of it all just conveys to the viewer so much of the times, the thoughts, and the conflicts that surrounded Malcolm and those tumultuous times he lived in.
I'd be lying if I did not say this is excellent, and then highly recommend it; so, I'd like to don this hat of honesty and tell you watch it, a lot of you'd like, but make sure to see it at least once (Oh yeah, and the book's quite excellent too)
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2008
I say this quite often about movies, but very rarely say it with as much conviction as when I'm referring to Malcolm X. This is, without a doubt the best movie I've seen in my entire lifetime, and if you haven't seen it, then it will become the best movie you will ever see. I'm actually shocked by some of the 1 star reviews, especially the one calling it a dangerous movie. For one, this movie keeps very loyal to the events and people talked about in his autobiography written by Alex Haley. To call it a dangerous film because it chronicles the life of Malcolm X, would be to call history dangerous. It accurately documents the rise and fall of Malcolm X and accurately displays the reasons for that rise and fall. If a man converted to Islam and became a militant because of this movie, then simply, he didn't get this movie, or at least he didn't watch it all the way through. This isn't anti-Islamic, nor can it be claimed that this in any way can incite militant or extremist behaviour as this exposes the consequences of such behaviours.
Malcolm X was a man who possibly equally responsible for the civil rights movement of African-Americans, yet accomplished it in a completely different way. When I first read "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" by Alex Haley some 5 years ago, it changed my life. The story of the mans religious beliefs and strong heart was inspiring and a story that showed you can really achieve anything if you set your mind to it. Of course, it's cliché but life is full of clichés and that one is about the only cliché you can associate with Malcolm X. He was a man not afraid to speak the truth about the segregation of Afro-Americans, especially in the North where it was believed the black man was much more equal than in the south. Spike Lee in some ways is a lot like Malcolm X, he's a man not afraid to speak out against lifes atrocities and lies by putting them up on screen.
Denzel Washington is possibly the best casting choice for a movie I've ever witnessed and this casting. Not only does he look like Malcolm, but his personality and charisma match that of the legendary figure. The start of this film is Malcolm (Denzel) delivering one of his infamous speeches which sends the electricity down your spine. What's special is even the delivery is akin to that of Malcolm. After that speech we're reverted back to Malcolms beginnings in Harlem as a drug pusher and pimp, and he's telling the story of his early childhood which presents us with numerous flashbacks of his Fathers murder and his Mothers descension into insanity. Because of this, you sort of become aware of how he ends up being the man he is at the start of the movie by going through all these tragedies. After a robbery with his best friend Shorty goes wrong, he's sent to jail where he finds the Nation of Islam and is visited by an apparition of the Prophet Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm has his eyes opened by the atrocious treatment of the African American by the white man. The NOI even today are fighting to have a state designated solely for the Black American, where they can govern themselves and look after their own interests. Malcolm eventually becomes a minister for the Nation and opens it up to a much wider audience, much to the displeasure or the Nation of Islam.
If you're familiar with Minister Malcolm, then you're familiar with what happens next as a result of his joining the Nation. The spectacular life events of such a man are just un-imaginable and it's hard to believe that a man, although he'll disagree, when he was a member of the Nation of Islam was such a segregationist managed to be an influence on so many people. Making such high profile friends such as film star Ossie Davis and working with other, more integarationist activists like Martin Luther King, he managed to truly change the world and is probably one of the main reasons as to why America now has a black man in the White House. Depending on how you look at it, you can either determine that the Islam religion was what made Malcolm such a hero, or whether it was the original manipulation of the Nation of Islam. Either way, I think all will agree that the man was taken away from us all too early.
Looking at articles about Malcolm and his wife Betty X, I found out something truly heart wrenching. Betty X, Malcolms wife, died just over 10 years ago in a fire caused by Malcolm X's grandson. I'm not sure whether the fire was lit to deliberately kill his grandmother, but he was arrested and sentenced to 18 months in Juvenile detention for manslaughter. The reason I brought this up is in the film you will be shown a lot of Betty X and you will come to realise when a great mother and wife she was. She was just as strong an influence on the life and times of Malcolm, as the blight of the black American was. She held the Shabazz family together through the times they left the Nation of Islam and were basically being tortured by them. I applaud her and minister Malcolm for their effect on the world and equal rights.
Minister Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) May 19 1925 - February 21 1965
Dr. Betty Shabazz May 28 1936 - June 23 1997
May they both Rest in Peace.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2002
I will write this review from a different angle, trying not to repeat what other reviewers have already strongly stated about Spike Lee's "Malcolm X."
It's a sweeping, briskly told story, always captivating.
And so don't let my small critiques (NOT criticisms) of the movie make you think this movie is not worth purchasing. Anyone who likes historical-based drama, civil rights-themed films, Denzel Washington, Spike Lee films and/or Malcolm X must buy this.
My critiques are small. Spike Lee could have done without the ending connecting Malcolm X's battles for equality, justice and recognition to Nelson Mandela. While it's somewhat poignant, it doesn't quite work as the film's ending. It might have served better as a separate feature from the movie -- maybe in the middle or at the end of the credits.
And my second critique has to do with historical fact (although I know there are many things it altered and overlooked in the name of making a well-flowing movie). Malcolm X died in the arms of Japanese-American civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama, not in the arms of his wife, as is shown in the movie. Showing him dying in his wife's arms may have made for a more dramatic, poignant scene, but it's not fact.
But, again, don't let these small critiques turn you away from the film. If its quality could be measured in awards, it would have been the big winner at the typically political, money-based, skewered Academy Awards. Those films the Academy Awards will be forgotten in a matter of years, whereas such films like Malcolm X will still be seen decades from now.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2001
I can't think of another filmmaker besides Spike Lee who's as qualified to direct this 3-hour epic about the slain leader Malcolm X. It was really the film he was born to make. Although it falls a notch below "Do the Right Thing" (still his best film and a qualified classic), it features a dead-on performance by Denzel Washington. Denzel definitely deserved to win an Academy Award, though he lost to Al Pacino. But Oscar or no Oscar, this DVD is worth picking up: the picture and sound are excellent with no print flaws, scratches, lines, or marks whatsoever. My only beef is that the film has no extras except production notes. It's my sincere hope that Warner Brothers will revisit this film and come out with a deluxe 2-DVD edition, for this is too important a film. If you haven't grabbed this, then what are you waiting for?
28 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 1999
This is an incredible production. Lee reconstructs neighborhoods and places that have been gone for years, and he deserves an awful lot of credit. The film, as a film, works very well. However, if anyone has read about the Nation of Islam and the life of Malcom X, there is a fair amount of information about the role Boston Minister, Louis Farrakhan played in the killing. Of course, if Lee had included Louis X in the movie, he'd end up like Malcom.
Before I get myself killed, please allow me to recommend a great book that covers the assassination better than any other book I've read: "Pillar of Fire, America in the King Years, 1963-64" by Taylor Branch. Although the book is primarily about King, it covers the events leading up to the killing of Malcolm X, including an amazing assassination attempt of one of Malcom X's colleagues during a high speed car chase through the streets of Boston.
After I read Branch's book, I saw Lee's film as a great movie, but historically, a missed opportunity. I think Lee is too close to the subject matter to include all of the details in an objective manner. So despite all the great performances, costumes, sets, and photography, I am left a bit disappointed. I'm waiting for a courageous filmmaker to do justice to Malcom X's life and legacy.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2004
Malcolm Little, a.k.a. Red, was not a man I would have wanted to be seen hanging around with. I wouldn't even have wanted to cross paths with him. But what happened to him later on in his life and the change that he underwent is one of the most influential and inspiring true stories that have ever touched my heart. When Malcolm accepted Islam, even though he entered this great religion from a wrong and very misleading angle, it was the beginning of a legendary figure's emergence into the American conscience and a beacon for all that stood up to the oppression and injustice that America was doing to its own people. This legendary person's name was Malcolm X, or Hajj Malek Shabbaz, may God bless him.
Spike Lee, the director of Do The Right Thing, brings Malcolm X to the big screen with Denzel Washington portraying the late Black leader. The movie takes you through Malcolm's turbulent childhood, his upbringing into a young con man, drug abuser, and gang leader. It was his 6 or so years spent in jail where Malcolm was introduced to the rising Nation of Islam lead by Elijah Muhammed from one of his inmates. Malcolm educated himself in jail and turned out to be what many never expected; an outspoken, strong and very intelligent spokesperson for the Nation and the struggles of the black community across America. The movie successfully reveals the inner conflicts between Malcolm and the Nation, and the result of Malcolm breaking away to become an independant activist. The film also does Malcolm's story justice by showing his pilgrimage to Mecca - pilgrimage is known as Hajj in Arabic and is considered the fifth and final pillar of Islam. It was this special visit to Mecca where Malcolm was exposed to mainstream Islam - the true picture of Islam unlike the misleading teachings of Elijah Muhammed and the Nation of Islam. The movie ends with the disturbing assassination of Malcolm and a piece narrated by Ossie Davis featuring pictures of the real Malcolm X and a scene with Nelson Mandela giving his thoughts on Malcolm.
The movie is based on the bestselling book 'Autobiography of Malcolm X' by Malcolm X himself as told to Alex Haley.
I do recommend reading this book to get a wider picture of Malcolm's life and realization of mainstream Islam.
One of the best movies I have seen.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2003
And I firmly believe Malcolm X was a true American. He was passionately, almost obsessively, commited to his ideas. He valued justice. He understood discipline. Yet, he showed undeniable strength and compassion when he realized that some of his beliefs no longer served his spiritual needs. To me, that is the ultimate struggle for ANYONE who tries to call America home.
Spike Lee's treatment of Malcolm X never degenerates into hagiography, race baiting, or worse, Hollywood stereotype. Instead he -- and of course, Denzel Washington's tour de force performance -- presents Malcolm the myth, the martyr and the man. What better dichotomy is there for someone forever enshrined in the pantheon of American fame? I hope we never forget his legacy...
This movie left me energized, angry, confused and hopeful all at the same time. Soon after, I mustered up the courage to read Malcolm's autobiography and was equally moved by it. Thank you, Spike for the inspiration.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2002
In my opinion, "X" is not only Spike Lee's greatest film to date, but also one of the greatest, and most sophisticated films Hollywood has ever seen. This movie was released in the fall of '92 to critical acclaim not only for Lee, but for every other actor (Denzel Washington, Al Freeman, & Delroy Lindo) and actress (Angela Bassett, & Kate Vernon) who stared in it. The film grossed nearly $50 million in its theatrical release, and was nominated for two Academy Awards.
Having said that, I must point out that the film is based "loosely" on "The Autobiography Of Malcolm X." I say loosely because Lee took it upon himself to tell the story of Malcolm X from his viewpoint, instead of sticking to the actual events that transpired in the book. However, "X" is still a masterpiece, and although fictional at times, it's still one of the most heartfelt stories I've ever seen captured on film.
It's definitely a MUST HAVE!!