Blood Brothers: Malcolm X and Muhammed Ali Parent Guide
This documentary is grounded by a wealth of archival footage and is given emotional depth by its interview subjects.
Parent Movie Review
By the 1960s, the civil rights movement in the United States was gaining momentum and visibility. Malcolm X, a fiery orator and representative of Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam, was one of the most recognizable figures advocating for African-Americans. In the world of sports, recent Olympic gold medalist Cassius Clay was becoming increasingly outspoken in his discontent with the blatant racist violence and cruelty in American society – a discontent he shared with Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. Changing his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, the talented boxer formed a lasting bond with Malcolm X…but that relationship would be challenged by Malcolm’s relationship with Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam.
Documentaries frequently struggle to focus on just one topic. Here, the filmmakers have picked a very specific subject, and as a result, the film feels focused and concentrated on its subjects, making it interesting both for viewers familiar with this area of history and those new to it. For the latter group, the film provides a good amount of background to create context, but without dragging down the doc’s pacing.
Archival footage of both Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali provides good primary source evidence, as well as a fascinating look at two of the most charismatic Americans of the 20th century. Interviews with close friends, family, and others involved in the civil rights movement flesh out the primary sources and add emotional depth to the film.
As far as parents (or in this case, teachers) are concerned, there is very little to be concerned about in terms of negative content. By far the most difficult part of the film is the discussion of Emmet Till, the 14-year-old boy lynched in Mississippi in 1955. There are scenes which include images from his open-casket funeral, and the extreme level of violence done to him is evident. It’s not a pleasant image, but it’s an important one, not only for the film’s narrative but to prevent collective amnesia of a brutal, bloody past.
The relationship between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X serves to illustrate a broader picture of the internal conflicts within a diverse movement and this documentary does a solid job exploring some of those issues. While it obviously does not and cannot cover every significant event of this period or every aspect of this relationship, Blood Brothers is a useful starting point for anyone interested in this pivotal part of American history.Directed by Marcus A. Clarke. Starring Muhammed Ali and Malcolm X. Running time: 95 minutes. Theatrical release September 9, 2021. Updated September 9, 2021
Watch the trailer for Blood Brothers: Malcolm X and Muhammed Ali
Blood Brothers: Malcolm X and Muhammed Ali
Rating & Content Info
Why is Blood Brothers: Malcolm X and Muhammed Ali rated PG-13? Blood Brothers: Malcolm X and Muhammed Ali is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for disturbing images, thematic elements and some strong language.
Violence: There are references to bombings and murders. Historical photographs from Emmet Till’s funeral, the assassination of Malcolm X, and various lynchings are shown. There is brief footage of boxing.
Sexual Content: There are references to sexual scandals and prostitution without graphic language or detail.
Profanity: There is one use of scatological profanity and infrequent mild cursing and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There are references to drug use and sales with no on screen depiction or detail.
Page last updated September 9, 2021
Blood Brothers: Malcolm X and Muhammed Ali Parents' Guide
What does the Nation of Islam believe? How has it changed since the death of Elijah Muhammed? How was the organization started? What are its goals?
Wikipedia: Nation of Islam
Southern Poverty Law Center: Nation of Islam
Smithsonian: Is It Time for a Reassessment of Malcolm X?
Related home video titles:
For those curious about Malcolm X, the documentary series Who Killed Malcolm X fleshes out more detail of his life, relationships, and ultimately, his murder. The 1992 biopic Malcolm X, starring Denzel Washington, also explores his life. Will Smith stars as Muhammad Ali in the 2001 biopic Ali. One Night in Miami depicts a fictionalized meeting between Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Other films and documentaries about the civil rights movement include Selma, John Lewis: Good Trouble, Loving, The Help, Mississippi Burning, The Butler, Seberg, MLK/FBI, Judas and the Black Messiah, and 13th.