Malcolm X is a film directed by Spike Lee. It is based on a true story about a man who fought for black peoples right to be seen as equals in America. In this essay I am going to describe, and analyze parts of the film in as much detail as possible. In the opening sequence, the film opens with a massive American flag, to bring feelings of pride to the viewers. Then we see black & white flashes of amateur-video footage. It’s hard to figure out what is going on, so we are forced to stare & look hard at what is going on. There is violence. Loud music, a crescendo. You can almost feel the pain of this battered man on the floor.
Then you realize its white policemen attacking a Blackman. I believe this is why the footage is in black & white; it shows the contrast between race and maybe the contrast in beliefs. Then, Spike Lee decides to go back to the flag. But now it is burning. I believe this is showing that Malcolm is burning America, burning it until it accepts Black People like it accepts the White people. Spike Lee has introduced sounds into the scene now. We can here a convincing voice. He’s saying something, but its quite difficult to hear, but you can tell this speech is said with passion.
This adds to the atmosphere. We can tell how much they want to be accepted into the American culture, they should have equal rights. But finally, the flag has been burnt, but into a shape, the shape of an X. I think this symbolizes that Malcolm was a big brave person, and helped Black people to gain part of America, that they now have their space and rights. The X itself has different symbols. It can make us think ‘political’ in the sense that the X could stand for a ‘vote’, but an X vote is a vote for ‘none’. Or the X can give the impression of mystery, the unknown.
Malcolm had quite evidently changed his real name, so people wouldn’t know who he really was. The X could stand for an error, something has gone wrong or changed in America. I also believe it could stand for an ‘X Marks the spot’, because it is in the middle of the American flag, America is where Malcolm wants equal rights for the Black people. Later in the film, Malcolm’s house is firebombed in the middle of the night. The director shows Malcolm as being nervous even before the firebombing, Malcolm has his eyes wide in the darkness, and I think he is looking at a gun.
The whole scene is in a blue and black kind of colours, peaceful colours. During this scene we see Malcolm have flashbacks of his disturbing past. He sees his father, and we realize that he has acting the same way as his father did when their house was firebombed when he was young. He and his father both panic for their children’s safety, & both are extremely angry and want to retaliate to this monstrous thing to do. Straight after this incident we see an interview with Malcolm, it is shown as if on TV. I believe this is done to make us see it from the public’s point of view, how they would hear the news.
Then we see Malcolm’s old ‘friend’ Baines suggesting that he firebombed his own house as a ‘publicity stunt.. This is shown to make us realize that Malcolm is running out of friends and people who would give him their moral support. He is now on his own. In the final sequence of the film we see a terrible ending to a well-loved character. Throughout the film the audience have become attached to Malcolm & his loving ways because they have been there to see his whole life. Malcolm is shot dead in the middle of a speech. Malcolm seems to know that something bad would happen on this day.
There is a man shouting that someone has stolen something from him, then there is lots commotion, and the camera pans in & out & its looking frantically everywhere, I think it is done in this order to make the viewer worried, so its all a blur and is hard to focus. Then one man runs to the front & shoots Malcolm. The camera goes directly to his children’s astonished faces. This brings extreme sadness to the audience. After all the commotion, the police come in to the hall, slowing filling up the hall. I believe this represents that this mans dreams have ended, the white man come back and out number the black fighters once again.
I think that Spike Lee intended this film to be watched by White & Black audiences. This film shows the Black people who helped them earn their rights and freedom, and that Malcolm was so dedicated to them that he was killed for his thoughts. But also, this shows white people how hard the black people wanted to prove they are and equal race to white. It makes the white people sympathize with his trouble. To me this makes whites look monstrous at that time, but I am sure that racism came from both angles. It shows us just how far the world has come over years and years.