I remember the Boogie Down Productions second album title and cover and the homage to Malcolm X. Between that album and Publics Enemys’ It’s Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back I really found myself wanting to know more about Malcolm X. In 8th Grade our social studies teacher who names is not coming to me now said after the Christmas/holiday/winter break we would start learning about Malcolm X. We were excited, happy and confused because the teacher was a thin older white lady and what could she teach us about a true black leader? Well she taught us where the “anger” he was labeled for having came from as she read from his autobiography. To hear the transformation, many transformations this man went through was mind blowing at a young age. Then years later the movie came out, I was young and didn’t want to sit in a theater for about 3 hours. I did notice all the late teens and 20 somethings were talking about it hard. Some didn’t like the fact it wasn’t as “hard” as they thought it would be, some felt like becoming Muslims right then. I saw the movie on HBO my first time and was mesmerized by it. To this day if I’m channel surfing and it’s on I will watch it and I have both DVDs.
Speaking of DVDs I was on Amazon and saw the 2 disc special edition of Malcolm X and I had to get it. What I love is the fact you get commentary from Spike Lee, Ernest Dickerson, Barry Alexander Brown and Ruth Cater sometime before Inside Man because Spike never mentions how Christopher Plummer and Denzel Washington were in that movie together. To hear Spike Lee tell how he went to Minister Farrakhan not for his blessings but out of respect For The Nation Of Islam. Spike said they had some disagreements about the way The Honorable Elijah Muhammad was depicted in the film. Spike said he got a letter after the films release stating The Minister still had issues with the film but also knew it was an important film. I had been waiting and hoping there would be a Commentary for this film just to know what the vibe was like during the filming process. To hear the short cuts they took to get shots for scenes and how they were inspired by The Godfather to do that was cool. To hear how the day of shooting for the assassination scene was a somber shoot and everyone was on edge. To this day I hate getting to that part of the film.
You also get a brief, well not really brief history on how much went into the making of this film. I was young and really could have cared less about the behind the scenes stuff that went on for a movie to be made so I was close to just not watching that part of the DVD. I’m glad I did see the shit Spike Lee went through to make this film, it was inspiring. To hear that Spike went to Norman Jewison and Marvin Worth to tell them that he should direct Malcolm X is crazy and brave. To learn Warner Bros. were happy to have Spike be there to do the film since by this time his films were considered bold with a fresh look was cool, but the conflict was just a sad. Spike went in to it thinking he would get A class treatment since it was Warner Bros. and Warner Bros. figured he’s done amazing things with a low budget so they weren’t looking to spend much on Malcolm X. Hearing the conflict of not wanting to go to Egypt and Mecca and being told shoot those scenes on a beach with fake pyramids is sad. I didn’t even know Denzel had played Malcolm in a play years before the movie was going through casting. We all know, well those who remember that time when the news was Oprah, Cosby, Jordan, Magic and many other prominent African Americans gave Spike Lee money to finish the film since Warner Bros. and a third party bonds company was trying to invest the kind of paper needed. Warner Bros. wasn’t cool with the length of the film and Spike said it was just as important as JFK the Oliver Stone picture that came out that year, also a Warner Bros. film, and that film was long
The actual Documentary which was based on the Autobiography Of Malcolm X is also on the two DVD set. The same speeches and quotes you hear in the film are heard in the documentary, the voice over Denzel does in the film James Earl Jones does in the documentary. Even the eulogy by the great Ossie Davis is on the Documentary. I found myself watching that four times just because it really was Malcolm X and to see and hear the actual man inspiring. To hear the impact he had on black people being interviewed after his assassination is powerful, black people not just African Americans were touched by this great man. To see in the documentary the near the end of his life he was following similar steps that Marcus Garvey, a man Malcolm’s farther was a follower of, to have African Americans reconnect with those in Africa is heartfelt. To see that Malcolm like Martin had a broader scope on things pass civil equal rights for African Americans was cool.
The movie itself made more since after seeing the documentary, I understood what Sophia meant when she asked if she was the first what woman he had been with that wasn’t a prostitute. I enjoyed the how the movie truly takes you on the ride of every change in this mans life. Even now watching hundreds of times I still view it like it’s the first time, sometimes. Though the box office sells were far from great the fact that this film was made and is still one of the better films about Malcolm X is saying something. I saw on Amazon Morgan Freeman is in a movie as Malcolm X but the reviews were bad, still might get it it’s Morgan Freeman.The one set back I do have to touch on is that the film itself is spit up. One DVD has one half and the other half on disc 2? Maybe that was to not have the entire special features stuff on one disc and the film on the other or just a different move by Warner Bros., who knows. In any event this is and always will be a great film to me. This DVD edition is what you need if you are a follower of Malcolm X and what he stood for.