Malcolm X (1992)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Political Drama  |   Release Date - Nov 18, 1992 (USA)  |   Run Time - 201 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Mark Deming

Malcolm X is an epic in the truest sense, conveying the life and times of one of the most remarkable men of his era and making clear why he continues to matter. The screenplay (credited to Spike Lee and Arnold Perl) telescopes a tremendous amount of information into 3 hours and 25 minutes without seeming either overstuffed or excessively detailed. Lee's potent and eloquent visual style is used to superb effect, with the invaluable assistance of cinematographer Ernest Dickerson and production designer Wynn P. Thomas. While Lee's sympathies are easy to detect, the film presents Malcolm as a three-dimensional human being whose message was powerful and necessary but often flawed. As the story spans the four decades of Malcolm's life, Denzel Washington captures with equal conviction and accuracy the sullen teenager, the hardened criminal, the fiery activist, and the mature martyr. Terence Blanchard's score, combined with a stack of vintage music from Big Joe Turner and Louis Jordan to Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, is the perfect emotional match for this material. Never afraid to present controversial opinions or take chances, Malcolm X is also a deeply moving biopic that puts a human face on an often misunderstood man.