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.
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.
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)
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.
on February 26, 2012
Man, I had sold my 2-disc DVD in order to add this to my BD collection and replace my DVD's with BDs (still waiting on the Shaft films and Suplerfy with surround sound!), but last year this got pushed back because their was a rights issue with Sam cooke songs in the film. They have it together now and I gather this is why this is priced higher. I would have waited until it came down, but I figured I would snatch it up in case something else came up!
Let me start by saying that this comes in ones of those digibooks and this one is different from previous types. This has the two discs attached to the covers of the book while the book pages are in the center. This is strange I maybe it was done because it was two discs. The book IS of a higher quality than the others with embossed titles, so at least you think that you are getting some of your money's worth. The back has the disc specs on it and it is stuck on better than previous digibooks, but I still do not understand why they cannot just print it on the back cover so that we will never lose it!
The movies is the same, the extras are the same as the 2-disc DVD, which is a good thing! the main thing was they the Malcolm X documentary from the DVD set was included here as well. It would have been nice if it could have been HD... They made the making of in an HD-like look or they just letter-boxed it, so why not make a FILM feature in widescreen? All in all, this really just an HD replacement of the 2-disc DVD.
AUDIO: I watched this film hundreds of times since I first saw it when it came out. I can almost recite it line for line and I am very familiar with the scenes and people in this film as well as the sound. I always thought that Malcolm X had one of the better surround sound effects on DVD and for this largely dialog driven film, and the same startling soundtrack transfers over to Blu-Ray - with upgraded sound. Of course the quality is better and the best example of the sound is when Malcolm X begins his first duties preaching on the Harlem streets with Al Sharpton and Bobby Seale. THAT is a perfect use of surround sound panning and it stayed precise! THIS is the type of surround sound that ALL movies should have.
PICTURE: If you already owned the DVD, then you are more than aware of how clean and clear the picture is. It is so nice looking that when you watch it, you find it hard to believe that twenty years have passed! The first DVD release of Malcolm X was on a single side, dual-layer disc that was perfect for what I liked - seeing the DVD cover art. That disc, I knew, was stretching it to the limits because of the running time, but it made do. The second release spread the film out over two discs which I hate, but when the film is three plus hours long, I can deal with it more. The picture quality was maximized for DVD and it showed.
Now with this Blu-Ray, I was always wondering what improvements could be made on the picture quality since it was already stellar. I assume that it would appear more film-like and I was not expecting too much more in the way of details. For the most part that is what you get here, although I have not viewed the DVD in over a year so I am going by memory. You do see film grain - mainly through the early part of Malcolm's life, before he was sent to prison. I believe that the grain and slightly smoother look was a style choice kind of like JFK. Once Malcolm becomes an official Nation of Islam member, the picture is as crisp and as clean as you expect it to be. This film quality always made me say that this is the reason that directors should not make the jump to straight digital FILMING just yet, as film can be scaled into the future better unlike a digital file.
The truth is, you do see more details, but it is not the difference between night and day like most DVD to BD's are. I better noticed the rubber on Denzel's fake goatee and marks on faces than in the past (I also have a larger TV now too!)and the zoot suits patterns are clear and you can make out exactly what they are and the colors do not stick.
Is it an upgrade? Of course it is, but it is not a light speed jump ONLY because the source material was so good to begin with! Now, of course this is the best quality Malcolm X you will get on ONE DISC with supreme sound. If you have the single disc DVD of X, then get this. If you have the 2-disc set and you do not like having one film over two discs, then get this. If you want it is loss-less surround sound - get this!
Now Warner Brothers, PLEASE give me the Shaft movies and Superfly with remastered soundtracks in surround sound! I also want the Bruce Lee films on BD edited (why not?) and the sound all-new! It is not as if those HAVE to be as they were. Someone do it!
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.
on May 16, 2015
Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven", the major winner of the Academy Awards in 1992 for best director and best film, is good solid film-making. However, "Malcolm X", produced and directed by Spike Lee and starring Denzel Washington in the title role, is a bona fide masterpiece--a 20th century film equivalent to a masterwork of the Renaissance. Certainly, it may be unfair to evaluate the two films against each other, but since one received much more acclaim than the other during the year of its release, it begs comparison. However, it's like comparing a Caravaggio with Michaelangelo's frescoes atop the Sistine Chapel. The first is certainly exceptional but the latter is a magnum opus. "Malcolm X" is Spike Lee's Sistine Chapel. Like Selznik's "Gone with the Wind" or Welles' "Citizen Kane", "Malcolm X" may be hard to top.
The only thing equally as superb as Washington's acting is the directing and the script, which is at once honest and compelling. Except for a coda at the end that seems at odds with the rest of the film, the script is near perfect, relying heavily on true accounts of Malcolm X's life instead of altering the story to fit prescribed entertainment values, a bad habit of Hollywood filmmakers. Instead, Lee and Washington rely on Malcolm X and his history as the guiding force behind the film. Many of the incidences portrayed in "Malcolm X" actually happened, from his father being assassinated on railroad tracks, to the young Malcolm being involved with drug dealing to his rise as a star among the Nation of Islam, or so-called Black Muslims. In one scene that is history and not fiction, Malcolm X orders his entourage of male associates to stand outside a hospital when a fellow Muslim, Brother Johnson, requires medical attention.
Malcolm Little was an African-American, the son of an assassinated preacher whose family had sustained vicious threats from the KKK. As a young man, he relocated to Harlem and became a streetwise hoodlum involved in crime gangs. Racketeering, gambling, prostitution, and drug dealing were his first religion. Then after an incident with white girls that landed himself and his associate Shorty (Spike Lee, perfectly cast) in jail, he meets a member of a new religious organization claiming kinship with Muslims in the Middle East and re-claiming their African roots.
Headed by the honorable Elijah Muhammad who had converted to Islam and brought the religion (or at least his version of it) to the United States as the Nation of Islam, the so-called Black Muslims (although they do not refer to themselves as such) lures Malcolm into a new world of honesty, compassion, and purpose. To the their credit, the religious organization gives Malcolm Little, now renamed Malcolm X, a sense of purpose, an identity, a loving community, and rehabilitation from the vices that were destroying himself in Harlem.
After his conversion, he becomes a prominent voice among the sect, a spokesperson for the honorable Elijah Muhammad and his message of religious determinism. Simultaneously, they also preach dangerous messages including that all white folks are devils, and that the honorable Elijah Muhammad is to be obeyed without question. As the spokesman of their cause against whites, Malcolm X in some ways becomes the darker side of Martin Luther King, Jr who propagated that proclaiming African-American superiority was as sinful as proclaiming white superiority. The press dubbed Malcolm X the "angriest man in America".
Washington does more than just portray Malcolm X, he becomes him. Washington, I imagine, must have studied footage of his speeches and spoken with people who knew him. Speeches of the real Malcolm X as compared to speeches in the film as enacted by Washington are almost indistinguishable. His performance ranks as one of the top two or three performances by an actor in the history of the performing arts and cinema, up there with Ben Kingsly as Gandhi, Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane, Laurence Olivier as Hamlet, and Vivian Leigh as Scarlet O'Hara.
The turn in the film occurs when, in the wake of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm makes some ill-conceived remarks to the press. Malcolm X further learns that Elijah Muhammad is not practicing all that he preaches. The star of the so-called "Black Muslims" begins questioning not only his role but the integrity of the entire movement. He then makes a pilgrimage to Mecca, required at least once in the lifetime of a Muslim. His pilgrimage changes many of his views.
It's hard to describe this film without using many superlatives, but if there was ever a film that deserved it, it's "Malcolm X". Washington and Lee do a tremendous job of neither vilifying nor idealizing Malcolm X, the man. In retrospect on the man, I think Malcolm X began to realize he could serve a higher purpose to help unify rather than divide the races. In the end, Malcolm X began to encourage that dream, but, like Martin Luther King Jr, his mission was cut short. As for the film, it is an honest tribute to one of the most memorable figures of American history. And like the man himself, the work may only be appreciated by later generations. Malcolm X is the embodiment of the American story.
on June 5, 2013
Consider this film was not selected for an oscar that year but corny (same) Jim Crow era Driving Miss Daisy was. Now if you are searching films, did Driving Miss Daisy ever come to mind you think my I have to see that movie, does it have any redeeming qualities? The answer lets you know this movie was snubbed. As 25 years later it commands a heft retail price and an anniversary edition.This one is beautifully colored but chronicles pivotal moments in his life. The directors out takes also add valuable insight into not only the making of this masterpiece but also, Malcolm X's life. It will make the unfamiliar want to learn more about this dynamic genius whose potential almost could have never been realized. And offers a bonus little documentary to start you off if you desire more about the life of this giant.
Spike of course takes the creative liberty to insert himself into the film, he's funny but not a real actor, as was customary for him at this time of his film making. Skip what you heard about his life if you never delved into it, this film shows you the kind of metamorphosis intellectually and socially that many men could go through if some in society weren't so fearful and hateful. Much could be learned. A must for All families with young hearty males but particularly young males who may be getting erronious labels because of their differences from what mainstream deams is acceptable in a young being..
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?
on June 8, 2015
This superb biographical film features Denzel Washington proving a quarter-century ago that he is one America's finest actors. One wishes Spike Lee would get back to making informative, engaging films for all---- like this one. The package is great....a beautiful digi-book, the blu-ray featuring a superb restoration and a dvd of the Oscar-nominated 1972 documentary, "Malcolm X." Belongs on one's shelf of important American films.