Spike Lee brings the life of African-American leader Malcolm X (an intense Denzel Washington in an Oscar-nominated performance) to the big screen in this sprawling, epic biographical drama. Born Malcolm Little, son of a Nebraska preacher, on May 19, 1925, he became one of the most militant leaders and charismatic spokesmen of the black liberation movement before his assassination at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City on February 21, 1965. The film sweeps through his early life as a small-time hustler and thief with his friend Shorty (Lee), his conversion to Islam in jail, and his subsequent life as a controversial spiritual leader and husband of Betty Shabazz (Angela Bassett). Malcolm’s tragic assassination is presented as a conspiracy of Nation of Islam leaders; the film shows how his philosophy has been realized in the lives of others who have been moved by his words. Filmed with great visual flair by Lee, the film is a work of entertainment as much as it is a historical artifact. Washington captures the spiritual conversion of the hero with a sincerity that is entirely as believable and ultimately moving as it was in the book that inspired the film. —Denver Film Society
As a writer, director, actor, producer, author, and entrepreneur, Spike Lee has revolutionized the role of black talent in Hollywood, tearing away decades of stereotypes and marginalized portrayals to establish a new arena for Afro-American voices to be heard. His movies, a series of outspoken and provocative socio-political critiques informed by an unwavering commitment toward challenging cultural assumptions not only about race but also class and gender identity, both solidified his own standing as one of contemporary cinema’s most influential figures and furthered the careers of actors including Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes, Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, and Laurence Fishburne. Born Shelton Jackson Lee in Atlanta, GA, on March 20, 1957, he was raised in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn. After attending Atlanta’s prestigious Morehouse College, returned to New York to make his first movie, 1977’s Last Hustle in Brooklyn, a portrait of the area’s Black and Puerto Rican communities… read more
Spike Lee gives solid directing in the way he depicts the electrified, and angered 1960s African American Civil Rights movement, lead by Malcolm X. Denzel Washington gives us a performance that shows us a character true and honest to what he represents, a man who not only fought for civil rights but died for them.