Friday, March 18, 2016

Malcolm X - Movie Review

One of the greatest Afro American leaders who fought for civil rights, Malcolm X was a controversial figure who wanted complete separation of whites and blacks and nothing less. Though he changed his radical views later on in his life, Malcolm X did much in his short life of 40 years to give black Americans a sense of identity and a powerful voice that did not hold back in its anger or in calling out the injustice meted out to it. He was opposed to the thoughts and methods of other civil rights activists of his time like Martin Luther King whose non-violent methods X did not approve of.

Malcolm X grew up in a time in the early part of the 1900s (1925-1965) when racism was rampant. Ku Klux Clan members attacked his home and probably even killed his father. Taken away from his single mother by the state (she finally winds up in an asylum) and his other siblings, Malcolm Little grows up as a wayward young man. He joins a West Indian gangster and learns the ropes, gets caught and is convicted for robbery, and then finds a man who changes his life in jail. Baines, a fellow black American introduces to him the teachings of the Nation of Islam, and converts the way Malcolm sees life. Malcolm becomes a scholar as he reads voraciously in jail and devotedly follows the leader of the Nation of Islam, Elijah Mohammed. Upon release he joins the Nation of Islam and with his firebrand speeches and burning zeal does a great lot for the black Americans. He converts many of them to Islam, advocates militant methods, brazenly opposes the white man's hegemony and demands nothing but complete separation between whites and blacks. His rising popularity makes him unpopular within the Nation of Islam and Malcolm himself is disillusioned after some negative reports about Elijah Mohammed come about. He breaks away from the Nation of Islam. Malcolm is shot dead while addressing a gathering, by members of the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X (the X he says, signifies the unknown factor of his birth which will be corrected only after he knows what it is).

Denzel Washington looks good - but does not look a patch on the original Malcolm X who oozes a mysterious charm in his gait, posture, smile and that look in his eye which has a mixture of intelligence, humour and darkness. This movie came by in 1992 - we have been watching Denzel for so long! It's a really long movie at 3 hours 21 minutes or so. But it's a story worth seeing as once again we are faced with the idea of how humans exploit one another when they have the slightest advantage. And they are pretty cruel too against anyone who raises his or her voice. Now to read the book on which the movie was based - written by Alex Haley and based on his conversations with the iconic Malcolm X.

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