Malcolm X is a movie that presents a biography of Malcolm X. It was produced and released in 1992 talking about the life and struggle of this Muslim-Black American civil rights activist. Spike Lee created an amazing and inspirational story of redemption not only as the producer but also the writer and the director. The movie stars Denzel Washington playing the role of Malcolm; and, among others, the cast entails characters such as Albert Hall, Delroy Lindo, Al Freeman, Jr. and Angela Bassett (Spike Lee). Warner Bros. were in charge of its distribution.
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This film depicts major events in the life of Malcolm X from his lifestyle as a criminal, his imprisonment, how he gets converted to Islam, his endeavors and fallout with the Nation of Islam, his marriage life until he gets assassinated on 21 Feb. 1965.
The setting at the beginning of the movie is in wartime Boston in 1940’s when Malcolm arrives as a teenager from Michigan. He gets involved in wrong company of “Shorty” (Mr. Lee), a “street hustler” who other than teaching him the dressing code shows him the Roseland Ballroom. He learns the antics of survival on the streets and gets acquainted with drugs and women. Moving from the 1940’s, as Canby (1) points out, “the childhood of Malcolm’s in Nebraska and Michigan” is flashbacked. Although not detailed, the scenes demonstrate his struggles.
Later Shorty and Malcolm rob the home of a rich white couple but,, unfortunately, the former is arrested and sentenced for a period of eight to ten years in prison. While in prison, Malcolm meets Baines (Hall) who is willing to assist him in withdrawal from cocaine addiction. However, he remains suspicious of Baines and later refuses to be introduced to Islam. He nevertheless remains loyal to Baines who teaches him and tells him about the Nation of Islam. Later, Malcolm accepts the Islamic Faith; upon leaving the prison, he is a fully converted Muslim and goes ahead to visit Elijah Muhammad (Freeman) who he believes will lead them away from the darkness (the whites). This is where he discards his family nam, calling it slave name and adopts “X” as his surname as per the norms of the Nation of Islam (Canby 1).
As a minister of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm becomes heavily involved in advocating for the Islamic principles and opens mosques across the U.S as commanded by Muhammad. He marries Betty (Basset) and together they are blessed with three children who are portrayed. At this point, he reunifies with Shorty and gets information concerning where his fellow criminals are (Spike Lee).
Even though the Nation of Islam flourishes under X, there is growing mistrust with those affiliated to Muhammad believing that X could force him out because of the support he enjoys. Malcolm learns about Muhammad’s infidelity and, due to disappointment, he comments about J. F. Kennedy’s assassination. This is against the Muhammad’s order who consequently suspends X from any involvement in the organization’s undertakings for 90 days.
He accepts the punishment but publicly pulls out of the organization to form his Muslim Mosque, Inc. He undertakes pilgrimage but writes to his wife about two white men trailing him. Upon coming back to the U.S., he accepts to work as a civil rights activists with a group he had openly and sternly criticized in the past.
Muhammad is not happy with Malcolm’s activities, and they experience growing accusations. Later, Malcolm’s home is firebombed, and he accuses Muhammad. While giving a speech in Manhattan (Audubon Ballroom) on 21 Feb, 1965, Malcolm gets assassinated with numerous gun shots under the eye of his family. Footage of Martin Luther King, Jr. commenting on this assassination and the eulogy read at his funeral by Ossie Davis is played together with Malcolm’s photographs being shown. The movie ends in an American classroom with a black teacher and the writings “MALCOLM X DAY” on the blackboard behind her. The former South African president, Nelson Mandela, is also shown quoting one of the Malcolm’s speeches (Canby 1).
To sum up, the whole discussion of the movie was very inspirational and informative as I experienced how someone can rise from the streets to become the hope of the many underprivileged in the society. The film is an exclusively human experience because, through Malcolm, we get an important lesson of hope and redemption regardless of nationality, race or religion.