Timothy Gunatilaka
February 07, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Malcolm X

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
202 minutes
performer
Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Spike Lee, Delroy Lindo
director
Spike Lee
author
Spike Lee
genre
Drama, Biography, Historical

We gave it an A

The special edition of Spike Lee’s bio-epic Malcolm X presents filmmaking at its most glorious — a feast for the senses, driven by exigent purpose. From the neon-hued zoot suits and ebullient Lionel Hampton refrains to the indelible images of Nelson Mandela and a burning American flag, Lee frames the life of Malcolm Little in a bittersweet rhapsody of sight and sound. And a magnificent Denzel Washington immerses himself in the character of a cocky hoodlum who transforms into the austere yet charismatic voice of an oppressed nation.

EXTRAS An Oscar-nominated 1972 doc of archived footage makes for a tragic reminder of real-life horrors — an intriguing complement to the film’s rendering of the same events. Crew commentary reveals cinematographer Ernest Dickerson’s predliection for Christian Dior stockings as lens filters and Lee’s adoration of MGM musicals. Plus, a behind-the-scenes featurette details Lee’s struggles — fighting for the right to direct the project (previously held by Norman Jewison), pleading for funding from black celebritles (Oprah, Cosby, Magic) — to bring his inspired vision to life.

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