Magazine article New Internationalist

Malcolm X

Magazine article New Internationalist

Malcolm X

Article excerpt

It seems fitting, maybe even inevitable. Malcolm X and Spike Lee, two of the most uncompromising figures in recent Afro - American history, meet on celluloid to do what they always do best -- encourage resistance and inspire debate. Malcolm X is over three hours long but don't let that stop you from going to see the film -- it combines a spacious epic quality with Lee's ability to tell a gripping story. You won't get bored. Lee effectively demolishes the myth of Malcolm as a demagogue spreading race hatred, without falling into mindless hero worship of an icon. Denzel Washington's portrayal renders Malcolm very human indeed although he shaves off some rough edges for popular consumption.

Visually stunning images jump off the screen. But somehow the parts don't quite add up to a whole. You lose a sense of Malcolm as a person as the film moves into his Black Muslim days. Too much time gets taken up with speeches and you lose a sense of how and why he is changing. In a funny way the film is personal when you want political and vice versa. Malcolm's break with the Muslims, for example, is a reaction to personal corruption and jealousy at the top which conveys little of the political disagreements which must have played a big role. …

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