Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA/Japan, 1992. Largo International N.V., JVC Entertainment Networks, 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks. Screenplay by Arnold Perl, Spike Lee, based on the book The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X, Alex Haley. Cinematography by Ernest R. Dickerson. Produced by Spike Lee, Ahmed Murad, Marvin Worth. Music by Terence Blanchard. Production Design by Wynn Thomas. Costume Design by Ruth E. Carter. Film Editing by Barry Alexander Brown. Academy Awards 1992. Golden Globe Awards 1992. New York Film Critics Awards 1992.
Spike Lee’s biopic about the civil rights leader who rocked America in the sixties with his extreme politics and fiery speeches pays extremely just tribute to its subject: Lee has created a controversial film about a controversial man. The overly long three-hour running time follows Malcolm Little from his early days as a downtown thug through to his incarceration in prison where he discovered and converted to the Islamic faith. Following that it delves deeply into his activities as a political leader and renamed revolutionary, who offered African Americans an alternative to the more peaceful approach to Civil Rights advocacy that was being led by Martin Luther King, Jr. The pace lags at times, but Lee’s film looks great and is lorded over by a riveting performance by Denzel Washington, who convinces you that he’s a better Malcolm X than the real thing ever was. Powerful, and, thanks to Lee’s integrity, always a challenging experience from beginning to end.