Making the Grades
Based on the near classic Autobiography of Malcolm X, this movie is a dramatized documentary of the complete life of Malcolm X. Directed and co-produced by Spike Lee, with Denzel Washington playing a marvelous lead role, this movie continues Lee's tradition of selecting themes that represent the "real" black America.
Malcolm X was an activist for black rights, but his ideas were not quite in line with the more popular notions of other black activists like Martin Luther King. Having converted to the Black Muslim religion during the time he spent in jail, Malcolm X later became a prominent leader and minister for the group. He embraced their ideals of black unity and the formation of a black nation within the United States. Later, after disagreeing with practices of the Elijah Mohammed, the leader of the group, Malcolm X officially denounced the sect and started his own black organization. Shortly thereafter he was executed by men believed to be linked to the black Muslim movement.
Lee's directing abilities are superb (this is his first "mainstream" motion picture), and he manages to put you next to Malcolm X in a way that graphically portrays the nature of the black person, and how it feels to be a minority. He doesn't insult whites or blacks, but just asks that you look at the world through someone else's eyes.
The assassination scene is very violent, but is depicted in a way that seems to hold true to what really happened. Although it occurs in the last 10 minutes of the movie, it is still worth watching the rest of the film, as well as the factual documentary section which follows. Again, Lee seems fair and honest in his portrayal of the film's characters.
A big reward needs to be handed to Warner Brothers for the inclusion of a very small message on the video box: "Rated PG-13 for a scene of violence, and for drugs and some language." If more distributors followed this method, it would make a parent's job much easier.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Malcolm X.
Learn more about the real Malcom X here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_X