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article imageOp-Ed: ‘Malcolm X’ launches Black History Month on home video

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 1, 2012 in Entertainment
‘Malcolm X’ is a 1992 biographical movie about the Muslim-American figure who went from a life of crime to civil rights leader. The special edition Blu-ray book is available January 31, 2012.
Released on the cusp of Black History month, director Spike Lee's Malcolm X is an accomplished biopic of a man who eventually became a great leader. The more than three-hour drama is a concise retelling of his life, from childhood to his assassination at age 39.
Malcolm's father was a preacher in the South constantly under threat of the Ku Klux Klan for inspiring other Negros. When he was murdered, Malcolm Little and his siblings were separated from their mother and each other. As an adult, Malcolm (Denzel Washington) went on to a life of crime that eventually landed him in prison, where he converted to the Nation of Islam. After being released, he used his charisma to become a minister and leader in the community. However, when he became too powerful he was excommunicated. He then traveled through the Middle East, finding a new, more peaceful way to practice. Upon returning, he denounced racism and agreed to work with other civil rights leaders. Soon after starting down this new path, his house was firebombed and he was fatally shot while giving a speech.
It's not surprising Lee asked Norman Jewison to hand him the reins to this picture. It is the culmination of all his works up to this point in his career. Malcolm X was the film that turned Lee into a real filmmaker; he took all the lessons he learned on his previous projects and produced a quality look into one man's turbulent life that spanned a lifetime. It's almost shocking he is able to so effectively depict so many events and influences in a 200-minute film. The concluding scene feels unnecessary as it leans towards being preachy, but film as a whole is a feat.
Despite some trepidation when he was casted, Washington is outstanding; embodying the role to near unrecognizability. In fact, while watching the Oscar-nominated 1972 documentary included in this special edition and from which most of the film's public addresses are taken, Washington's appearance and manner of speaking are almost identical to the man he portrays. The uncanny similarity results in an incredible portrait of history that both educates and entertains. Washington appears to have an affinity and talent for portraying historical figures, playing imprisoned boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter several years late in The Hurricane, which also reunited him with Jewison.
Lee determined early on in the production that he'd require a big budget and an extended length to truly do justice to the narrative and include the detail that he intended. The studio was reluctant, but as more of Lee's vision for the movie was revealed (and the budget was further spent) the push back lessened. His picture included actually traveling to Mecca and shooting Malcolm's pilgrimage on location. Still, to complete the picture, Lee had to ask for donations from prominent black celebrities, such as Bill Cosby, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Janet Jackson and Prince. In the end, Lee was able to make his version of the movie – and likely the best adaption possible.
Director: Spike Lee
Starring: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett and Delroy Lindo
Special features include: commentary by writer/director/producer Spike Lee, director of photography Ernest Dickerson, editor Barry Alexander Brown and costume designer Ruth Carter; deleted scenes with introduction by Lee; “By Any Means Necessary: The Making of Malcolm X”; Oscar-nominated 1972 feature-length documentary Malcolm X; theatrical trailer; and 40-page booklet. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
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This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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