« Home | Fargo (1996) » | Boyz N the Hood (1991) » | 25th Hour (2002) » | X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) » | The Battle of Algiers (1966) » | eXistenZ (1999) » | X2 (2003) » | A History of Violence (2005) » | Munich (2005) » | North Country (2005) »

Malcolm X (1992)

Spike Lee’s sprawling, indulgent Malcolm X is incidentally reflective of its historical persona in that both the film and its titular character can be largely characterized by their conflicting qualities. As a historical figure, Malcolm X was an impassioned activist who fought for the rights of blacks in America, but upon discovering the corrupt nature of the organization he had dedicated much of his life to (the Nation of Islam) as well as how his own efforts had been manipulated and misused, he found enlightenment, forsook the black supremacy he had previously taught, and instead pursued racial equality and acceptance rather than segregation. In similarly bipolar fashion, Malcolm X the film is an epic production that cumulates into a powerful, prolonged character study, but is itself limited by the incredibly conservative nature of its own aesthetic. For a film such a confrontational filmmaker, the film loses much of its potential effect as a result of forgoing Lee’s more distinctive style; likewise, one imagines that such a traditionally structured film could never do complete justice to such a radical figure. Nevertheless, while Malcolm X might embody many of the trademarks and qualities of the modern biography genre, the work itself is so impassioned and tightly knit that it almost completely makes up for it’s lack of willingness to tread new ground. The centerpiece to the film’s moderate success is a towering Denzel Washington, who creates Malcolm X’s screen persona and evolves him believably as the film covers entire decades of his life. If the film ends on a somewhat disappointing note, it’s because, in a completely contradictory turn, the film disowns the encompassing acceptance its social freedom fighter found by presenting its concluding “I am Malcolm X” montage with exclusively black actors. The film's prodigious salute to the importance of history is stirring, but at the height of it all it seems to forget that the life of Malcolm X is one that should be remembered by everyone.

Malcolm X was born on May 19, 1925. This weekend we celebrate what would have been his 82nd birthday. Please join us on the Electronic Village and share your thoughts on this African American hero. Let your voice be heard. peace, Villager

Post a Comment