The fallacy on the tenets of racial supremacy had been the major form of social injustice besetting the American Society since the nation’s conception. What had started as Slave Trade during the 1600’s had continued to manifest in the modern age in ways abhorring to the very principles, as well as the founding fathers, of our nation’s democracy. The movie Malcolm X, released in 1992, tackles the real-life tragedy experienced by an Afro-American Islam during the years following the Second World War; his struggles within himself, as well as with a society filled with hatred towards his color.
The film’s director, Spike Lee, structures the movie to present Malcolm X as a philosophical hero of the modern Islam, intent on freeing the African Americans from social bondage, living on American soil. Such emphasis given on Jesus not being White, with blue eyes and blond hair, gives the viewer a strong message pertaining to the manipulation done by the White race in picturing themselves as the more superior race; being God-like in image, form, and even in color. Another emphasis explored in the film pertains to the Blacks as not being Americans, as being a nation themselves who happens to live in America. This teaching is supported by an extensive narrative pertaining to their origins, how they have been bought by the Masters, and how their present names represent the true meaning of their persona—as being lost. Lastly, the film puts emphasis on the supposed one true religion—Islam. Malcolm’s very transformation from a sinful, greedy Christian to being an upright, moral man; supported by the dialogues and teachings about the Prophet Muhammad and his trip to Mecca, wherein he finally finds peace in himself, thus achieving a higher spirituality, clearly manifests the emphasis given by the film’s director in bridging these messages.
The movie’s climactic ending, wherein Malcolm X was assassinated while about to deliver his sermon, tends to make the viewer question the veracity of the creed, equality among men, within the American society, and within the religion of Islam itself. This causes the viewer to be appalled by such acts of murder, especially since both the American Constitution and Islam’s Qur’an preaches of freedom, peace, brotherhood, equality, and above all, love among mankind. An irony of sorts, as the film tends to portray that both the American government and the Islam leadership were in connivance in the actual execution of the well-planned assassination of Malcolm X. In causing the viewer to be alarmed consciously, morally, and spiritually, brought about by the film’s climactic ending, perhaps it is evident that the means applied by the film’s director, Spike Lee, had completely achieved its purpose—to make the viewer realize the heroic deeds accomplished by the main character.
In the movie, certain tools were utilized in delivering a particular message or thought to the audience. First is the Webster’s Dictionary. Here the director used this as a tool for proving that the White race had pre-programmed public perception of Black people as being unpure, corrupt, and filthy (Lee). It was also used as an initial eye opener to the real world for the former persona of Malcolm X. Another tool used was the character of Shorty. In the film, he was representing the typical modern African-American, living his life according to the dictates of the White supremacists, and not knowing that the way he leads his life is actually the way others had designed it to be. Yet another, and perhaps the strongest of all tools utilized, was the trip to Mecca. This represented Malcolm X’s awakening to a higher level of realization, where it is in fact ideal for colors of all races to join the war against social racism. It is here where he finally finds true peace, especially within himself, that caused him not be petrified of the dangers surrounding him.
The Movie, Malcolm X, is one suited for every race and religion. It teaches of equality, justice, spirituality, and love. It instructs to be blind to the color of man’s skin, and focus on the real person beneath. It also teaches us that we are all of one race in God’s eye; that no race is superior or inferior; and no man is greater or less then the other.
Malcolm X. Dir. Spike Lee. 1992. Largo International N.V.