Malcolm X (film)
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Malcolm X is a 1992 American biographical motion picture about the African-American figure Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little) co-written, co-produced, and directed by Spike Lee. It stars Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Al Freeman, Jr., and Delroy Lindo. Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and future South Africa president Nelson Mandela have cameo appearances. Spike Lee has a small role as Shorty, a character based partially on a real-life acquaintance, Malcolm "Shorty" Jarvis, a fellow criminal and jazz trumpeter.
The film dramatizes key events in Malcolm X's life: his criminal career, his incarceration, his conversion to Islam, his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam and his later falling out with the organization, his marriage to Betty X, his pilgrimage to Mecca and reevaluation of his views concerning whites, and his assassination on February 21, 1965. Defining childhood incidents, including his father's death, his mother's mental illness, and his experiences with racism are dramatized in flashbacks.
Malcolm X's screenplay, co-credited to Lee and Arnold Perl, is based largely on Alex Haley's 1965 book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Haley collaborated with Malcolm X on the book beginning in 1963 and completed it after Malcolm X's death.
Malcolm X was distributed by Warner Bros. and released on November 18, 1992. Denzel Washington won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. In 2010, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".