Malcolm X

Prior to this movie I only knew the basics about Malcolm X, so it was powerful to watch the movie and see the full extent of his life in one sitting. Seeing the span of his life allowed me as the viewer to grow and develop with him. What was masterful about the movie was that while it was really long, it still had a cohesive feel. Despite covering many years and phases of life the artistic sectioning of his life allowed the viewer to have breaks in time that acted as landmarks. Each phase of his life had a specific theme and energy to it which creates continuity throughout the various time periods. The artistry of jumping between time periods was beautiful, and the movie seemed to flow throughout time in a smooth manner. Particularly in the scene when they director contrasted when the Klu Klux Klan burned Malcolm’s childhood home, with the burning of his family’s home after he left the Nation of Islam. It reminded me of our class discussion about sempiternity, where time exists outside of the linear realm. 

All of this came together to inform the viewer about another perspective within the Civil Rights Movement. Obviously this movie does not act as a replacement for actually studying the history of the 1950’s and onward, but the diversity of perspective was helpful. Growing up I was regularly taught about Martin Luther King Jr, and the work he was a representative of, but I rarely had the opportunity to learn about other leaders during that time period.

4 comments

  1. I also thought the film was masterful in in its portrayal of the various stages of Malcolm X’s life. I similarly noticed that oftentimes, these life stages were broken up by actual documentary footage of the Civil Rights movement and of Malcolm X himself, which, to me, showed how truthful and accurate the film aspired to be in its depiction of Malcolm X’s life.

  2. I think what you said about diversity of perspective is important, as this is something Malcolm experience throughout his life as well. He adopted new beliefs and attitudes several times in his life as he learned more about the world and experienced new perspectives.

  3. I also enjoyed the “spanning” aspect of the film. It was definitely a reminder that he lived a vast life, full of many experiences and moments that marked him in a variety of ways. Watching his development in this way made him appear particularly unique as a leader (because of the way he handled things and moved forward with resolve), but also made him that much more human. He was not perfect, but he always followed his conscience and that’s all anyone can do!

  4. I like what you said about sempiternity. The more classes I take in Jepson the more parallels I draw between themes of love, hatred, loyalty, activism, etc. So the comparison the director makes about the burning of the homes really offers perspective and context to help understand Malcom X as a complex person. I always thought of his actions as being able to simplified to just violence or fighting hatred with hatred, but the film made me take a step back.

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