Malcom X

LEE_SPIKE_1992_Malcolm-X_O_poster This film, directed by Spike Lee, focuses on Malcolm X, the controversial African-American activist and contemporary of Martin Luther King. The biopic shows Malcolm X evolving from a criminal into the leader of the Nation of Islam. By integrating into the scenario episodes of his difficult childhood and his metamorphoses in prison, it makes clear how Malcolm X made a determined decision to follow a radical approach. This placed him diametrically opposite to Martin Luther King, who always argued in favour of non-violent resistance.

In the film the contrast between the ideas of King and Malcolm X is illustrated by juxtaposing footage and speeches of the two activists. We see Martin Luther King and hear him say, ‘We must remain true to non-violence. I’m asking everybody in the line. If you can’t be non-violent, don’t get in it.’ This is followed by one of Malcolm X’s speeches, which is in sharp contrast: ‘And just like that old Uncle Tom back during slavery time…, teaching us to love our enemy.’

The speech continues in the same tone and it is clear that Malcolm X considered King naive.

In the ‘deleted scenes’, which can be found on some DVD versions of the film, director Spike Lee explains this in more detail. According to Lee, Malcolm X was much more popular with young people than King at that time, because Malcolm’s dream and approach were much more radical.

Only after Malcolm X has left the Nation of Islam do we get to see a softer and more rational attitude. As of then Malcolm X is willing to work with other African-American leaders. Footage of a meeting between Malcolm X and King has been incorporated in the film, and of King responding to the death of Malcolm X. These are some of King’s words: ‘The assassination of Malcolm X was an unfortunate tragedy and reveals that there are still numerous people in our nation who have degenerated to the point of expressing dissent through murder and we haven’t learned to disagree without becoming violently disagreeable.’

The film, from 1992, was a huge box office success and Denzel Washington was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Malcolm X.

For the trailer, click here:

Malcolm X (1992)
Director: Spike Lee
Available on DVD/Blu-ray

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