I had never seen Malcolm X before and I absolutely loved it. I mean, how good was Denzel Washington? In high school, I read Malcolm X’s autobiography, which the movie is based upon, and both read and listened to some of his speeches, so I had a general background and understanding of what the movie was going to be like, but it still blew me away. Three and a half hours is certainly a long movie, but I actually didn’t think it took away from the experience at all. In fact, the long time frame allowed for plenty of time to see the whole trajectory of Malcolm X’s life and to get a deep dive into him as a person, which is really what makes this movie great.
I have always thought that Malcolm X was one of the most interesting and misunderstood people I learned about in high school. While his opinions and policies could be argued against, I always thought they made sense for him, and I’m sure many others, given his life experiences. His childhood and young adulthood were marred by the murder of his father by KKK members, the destruction of his family as child services took him and his siblings away from his mother, and daily racist interactions with white employers, police officers, and others. He was forced to live on the streets and he eventually was put in prison but through it all he was able to turn his life around. If anyone had a reason to be cynical about society and the world, it would have been Malcolm X. But instead he became one of the great and inspiring leaders and speakers of the 20th century. His life is tragic and disheartening, but it is also triumphant and inspiring. He was able to overcome all the people trying to bring him down and inspired generations of black people to fight for themselves and lift each other up. Malcolm X is simultaneously the victim of the racism and hatred that has plagued the United States’ existence while embodying the “American Dream” by lifting himself out of poverty and overcoming all the horrors he had to endure during his life. I thought the movie really did a great job of capturing all of the different high and low points of his life and really did justice to Malcolm X’s legacy. I think he is a truly inspirational person and I hope that one day the majority of people will see him as such.