Malcolm X (1992)

PG-13   |    |  Biography, Drama, History


Malcolm X (1992) Poster

Biographical epic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster, to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam.


7.7/10
77,053

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  • Denzel Washington and Delroy Lindo in Malcolm X (1992)
  • Denzel Washington in Malcolm X (1992)
  • Denzel Washington in Malcolm X (1992)
  • Denzel Washington and Spike Lee in Malcolm X (1992)
  • Denzel Washington and Delroy Lindo in Malcolm X (1992)
  • Denzel Washington and Spike Lee in Malcolm X (1992)

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12 October 2005 | itamarscomix
8
| An important film
Malcolm X cannot truthfully be said to be one of Spike Lee's best films, but it was an important step for him, perhaps the most important one of his career. This biopic, and Spike's fifth full-length feature, makes only partial sense as a follow-up to his greatest classics, Do The Right Thing, Mo' Better Blues and Jungle Fever, the three films in which he created and developed his unique voice and made a name for himself as one of the most prominent independent filmmakers in the US; Spike's own voice can barely be heard in Malcolm X, and his usually immediately recognizable trademarks are tough to point out. The reason is that for the first time in his career Spike Lee took a step back, and he is not the dominant personality in the film; the dominant personality is Malcolm X himself, and Spike let Malcolm's voice be heard throughout the film louder than anything else.

So Malcolm X is less a work of art and more a statement than Spike's previous films. It's scope is immensely larger than anything he did before – it does, after all, span 200 minutes – and is therefore, naturally, not as tight and focused as Do The Right Thing or Jungle Fever; but in Malcolm X Spike tackles head on the very subjects he treated with symbolism and subtlety in those films, and it was therefore a natural and important progression for him, and a logical continuation of those movies, and in it he proved that he has more than one voice. In a biopic, and for that matter, in any docu-drama, the most important factor is for the director to care about the subject, and I'm yet to see a director who's more passionate about his subject than Mr. Lee.

Malcolm X boasts a huge ensemble casts, with wonderful performances by Delroy Lindo, Angela Bassette, Al Freeman Jr. (in a harrowing performance as Muslim extremist Elijah Muhammad) and Spike Lee himself – but the movie is still entirely Malcolm X's, and therefore Denzel Washington's. Spike's protégé gave a lifetime performance in Mo' Better Blues two years earlier, but he surpassed it with his gut-wrenching portrayal of Malcolm X, which earned him an Oscar nomination (unfortunately lost to Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman) and based him as one of the best actors of his generation.

Although Malcolm X is not Spike Lee's best film, it's an important film that needed to be made, and it's a good thing that Spike was the one to do it. More than it's an impressive, moving, beautiful movie – and it is - Malcolm X's story is a story that must be heard, and this biopic is a film that, truly, every cultured and intelligent person needs to watch.

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