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Boyd, Herb. "Popular Culture and Political Empowerment: The Americanization and Death of Malcolm X." Cineaste 19.4 (1993): 12-13.
Boyd discusses Lee's attempt to "pay Malcolm the same kind of respect that was once reserved for King and the Kennedys" and to "legitimize him as a true American." He discusses Malcolm X's role in the black cultural scene, specifically through rap. Boyd says that Lee's specific exclusion of certain scenes show Malcolm X only as a humanitarian, and allows him to be perceived as a "true American."
Carson, Clayborne. "Malcolm X." Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies. Ed. Mark C. Carnes. New York: Holt, 1995.
Clayborne discusses the film as it pertains to history and its source, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. The main point of Clayborne's argument, as well as others critical of the film, is that Spike Lee's Malcolm doesn't reflect the mature, self-criticism found in the autobiography. Written from the perspective of Malcolm's final years, the autobiography presents Malcolm's evolving political thought as he moved towards working with other leaders of the civil rights movement. Clayborne feels that a more comprehensive view of Malcolm in his later years is warranted, instead of the care and depth that went into showing Malcolm's transformation from hustler to minister. He is also critical of the film's omission of key events in Malcolm's life that include some of his more famous speeches abroad.
Crowdus, Gary, and Dan Georgakas. "Our Film Is Only a Starting Point: An Interview with Spike Lee." Cineaste 19.4 (1993): 20-24.
Lee discusses his desire to draw in a younger audience for Malcolm X, the difficulties he faced in condensing the life of someone as prolific as Malcolm X into a three-hour movie, and the expectations he faced for succeeding in producing a well-received homage to Malcolm X.
Doherty, Thomas Patrick. "Malcolm X: In Print, On Screen." Biography 23.1 (2000): 29-48.
Doherty discusses the success of Lee's film, most specifically in relation to the autobiography it was based off on and of past biopics. He says Malcolm X was an advance in the field of biopics and that it aptly captures the autobiographical feel of its parent work. However, Doherty believes that Malcolm X "came to be the kind of prestige project more respected than enjoyed." In Doherty's opinion, the project was lacking in several areas, including Denzel Washington's portrayal of Malcolm X, an excess of ritual reenactments, and inconsistent editing. He concludes with the idea that Lee "opted for a deferential fidelity to the Autobiography rather than an independent inquiry into a contested life."
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. "Generation X." Black Film Review 7.3 (1992): 14-17, 33.
Gates interviews Lee about such topics as the historical accuracy of the film and how he responds to the flack he received to certain aspects of the movie that many believed failed to accurately portray Malcolm. Lee lets you know that over the course of his life there were many different versions of Malcolm, and, because of this, people are going to view this movie different ways. Lee's take on the topic is that this movie is his version and how he sees Malcolm. The rest of the interview goes over Lee's relationship with Warner Bros., his public call for better education, and how he alone has final cut.
hooks, bell. "Spike Lee Doing Malcolm X." Outlaw Culture. New York: Routledge, 1994. 155-64.
hooks is extremely critical of Lee's portrayal of Malcolm X. She feels that the film and its marketing reduce Malcolm to imagistic representation. The danger in this lies in the dilution of Malcolm's message and meaning as he is re-issued for a mass-consumer culture. hooks believes that all of the black political rage and militance are lost in Lee's Malcolm, as all Hollywood films tend to do. She criticizes Lee for focusing on the aspects of Malcolm he himself identifies with. In the end, hooks feels that this is simply another product with little social relevance spit out by the Hollywood machine.
Jones, Jacquie. "Spike Lee Presents Malcolm X: The New Black Nationalism." Cineaste 19.4 (1993): 9-11.
Jones bravely comes to the defense of Lee and his film, claiming that Malcolm X "culminates loyally the tide of new Black Nationalism." Jones says that with film the most effective vehicle for African-American popular culture, Lee has succeeded in bringing a better understanding of Malcolm X to blacks. Jones essentially admits that there are mistakes in the film, but she urges that we look past those mistakes to the bigger picture that is the advancement of the Black Nationalist movement.
Jones, Kent. "The Invisible Man. Spike Lee." Film Comment 33 (Jan/Feb 1997): 42-47.
There have always been different and strong opinions surrounding Lee's films. Some people claim that he is basically updating old-fashioned social consciousness. Others liken him to an overgrown film student, while his admirers push him as an innovator. The writer examines these views in relation to Lee's films, including Malcolm X.
Kellner, Douglas. "Spike Lee's Morality Tales." Philosophy and Film. Ed. Cynthia A. Freeland and Thomas E. Wartenberg. New York: Routledge, 1995. 201-17.
Kellner discusses Lee's Malcolm X and Do The Right Thing in the context of confronting his audiences with issues of morality -- "doing the right thing." Kellner argues that while Lee is often criticized for not taking a firmer stance on certain political issues, his films don't necessarily seek to do that. Instead, his films focus more on how by making the correct moral decisions, a person, specifically a black person, can achieve a stronger platform to take a political stand. Kellner does find that Lee's films are limited in their identity politics, where those of black men are put ahead of other oppressed people.
Kennedy, Lisa. "Is Malcolm X The Right Thing?" Sight and Sound 3.2 (1993): 6.
Kennedy opens by discussing the popularity Malcolm X had on America when it was released in the 1990's and its social effect. She explores the positives and negatives of Malcolm X, and later addresses all of Lee's films. The rest of the article is spent discussing the trials and tribulations of the making of Malcolm X and Spike Lee's goals, techniques, and process of filmmaking. Kennedy discusses Lee's work within the greater context of black cinema.
Lee, Spike, with Ralph Wiley. By Any Means Necessary. New York: Hyperion, 1992.
Lee tells the story of the making of Malcolm X. He explains his reasons for wanting to make the film and how he felt that it should be made by a black filmmaker (it was originally going to be directed by white filmmaker, Norman Jewison.) Lee goes on to explain the many difficulties he faced bringing the film to audiences. He had issues with Warner Bros. over creative control of the film, its length, as well as financing for the film and its marketing. Lee tells the story of how he hit up just about every black celebrity for money -- from Michael Jordan to Janet Jackson. The book contains some good photos and a complete version of the script.
Locke, John. "Adapting the Autobiography: The Transformation of Malcolm X." Cineaste 19.4 (1993): 5-7.
Locke discusses Malcolm X in relation to the autobiography, highlighting the ways in which the movie alters or moves away from facts presented there and how that affects the portrayal and audience reception of the movie's Malcolm. He specifically discusses the glamorization of Malcolm's hardships and the softening of his perception and delivery.
Norman, Brian. "Reading a 'Closet Screenplay': Hollywood, James Baldwin's Malcolms and the Threat of Historical Irrelevance." African American Review 39.1/2 (2005): 103-18.
"This article examines the un-filmed screenplay written by James Baldwin about African American activist Malcolm X. Baldwin's use of historical markers and the possibility of alternate markings and orientations. Relevance of Baldwin's screenplay to the text 'One Day, When I Was Lost: A Scenario Based on Alex Haley's The Autobiography of Malcolm X'; Illustration of the disorder of the racist American in the 1960s; Comparison of Baldwin's screenplay to Spike Lee's film and 'The Autobiography.'"
Reid, Mark A. "The Brand X of Postnegritude Frontier: Cultural Analysis of Black Identity Seen in Spike Lee's Film Malcolm X." Film Criticism 20 (Fall/Winter 1995/96): 17-25.
After defining postnegritude, the last two-thirds of this article discusses the film's lack of truth. Reid criticizes Lee on several fronts regarding the truth and characteristics of characters, scenes, and Malcolm's motives. Reid feels as if too much of Lee shows through the on screen, citing specific situations where Lee's own personal life is involved. There is an especially big problem with the connection of Malcolm to Nelson Mandela, who each stood for entirely different causes.
Stevens, Maurice E. "Subject to Countermemory: Disavowal and Black Manhood in Spike Lee's Malcolm X. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 28.1 (2002): 278-301.
Stevens discusses the Freudian theory of disavowal in relation to the portrayal of black identity through literature and film, and explores how it applies to Malcolm X. He critiques Lee for limiting black identity, specifically gendering it in terms of the heteronormative male. According to Stevens, Lee's film "highlights the threats that homosociality, feminine agency, and interracial ambiguity post" to a racialized and gendered black nationalism. Stevens says that Lee is unable to help transform the portrayal of black identity because of the political message essential to the story, and the "racialized modes of remembering it invokes."

See Also

Baraka, Amiri. "Spike Lee at the Movies." Black American Cinema. Ed. Manthia Diawara. New York: Routledge, 1993. 146.

Bogle, Donald. Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films. New York: Continuum, 1994.

Bowman, James. "Heroic Failures: The 'Malcolm X' Phenomenon." New Criterion 11.5 (1993): 11-16.

Boyd, Herb. "Malcolm after Mecca: Pan-Africanism and the OAAU." Cineaste 19.4 (1993): 11-12.

Craven, Alice Mikal. "In the Heat of the Night: Teaching the American Nightmare to the World." Tamkang Review 35.3-4 (2005): 115-53.

Cripps, Thomas. Slow Fade to Black: The Negro in American Film, 1900-1942. New York: Oxford UP, 1993.

Crowdus, Gary, ed. By Any Reviews Necessary: A Symposium on Malcolm X. Cineaste 19.4 (1993).

Doherty, Thomas Patrick. "Lee, Shelton Jackson 'Spike.'" A Political Companion to American Film. Ed. Gary Crowdus. Chicago: Lakeview Press, 1994.

Everett, Anna. "'Spike, Don't Mess Malcolm Up': Courting Controversy and Control in Malcolm X." The Spike Lee Reader. Ed. Paula J. Massood. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2008.

Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. "Malcolm, the Aardvark, and Me." New York Times 2 Feb.1993: 7.11

Georgakas, Dan. "Who Will Speak for El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz?: Hagiography and a Missing Identity in Malcolm X." Cineaste 19.4 (1993): 15-16.

hooks, bell. "Male Heroes and Female Sex Objects: Sexism in Spike Lee's Malcolm X." Cineaste 19.4 (1993): 13-15.

hooks, bell. "Malcolm X: Consumed by Images." Z Magazine March (1993): 36-39.

Horton, Andrew. "Political Assassination Thrillers." A Political Companion to American Film. Ed. Gary Crowdus. Chicago: Lakeview Press, 1994.

LaRocca, David. "Rethinking the First Person: Autobiography, Authorship, and the Contested Self in Malcolm X." The Philosophy of Spike Lee. Ed. Mark T. Conard. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 2011.

Lee, Jonathan Scott. "Spike Lee's Malcolm X as Transformational Object." American Imago 52.2 (1995): 155-67.

Lee, Spike, and Henry Louis Gates. "Generation X." Transition 56 (1992): 176-90.

Lee, Spike. Five for Five: The Films of Spike Lee. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1991.

Lester, Julius. "Black Supremacy and Anti-Semitism: Religion in Malcolm X." Cineaste 19.4 (1993): 16-17.

Marable, Manning. "Malcolm as Messiah: Cultural Myth vs. Historical Reality in Malcolm X." Cineaste 19.4 (1993): 7-9.

McCrisken, Trevor, and Andrew Pepper. "From Civil Rights to Black Nationalism?" American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2005. 160-86.

Reed, Adolph. "The Trouble with X." Progressive February (1993): 18-19.

Rhines, Jesse. "Spike Lee, Malcolm X, and the Money Game: The Compromises of Crossover Marketing." Cineaste 19.4 (1993): 17-18.

Rollins, Peter C. The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past. New York: Columbia UP, 2003.

Slethaug, Gordon E. "Spike Lee, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X: The Politics of Domination and Difference." I Sing the Body Politic: History as Prophecy in Contemporary American Literature. Ed. Peter Swirski. Montreal McGill-Queen's UP, 2009. 113-148.

Steele, Shelby. "Malcolm Little." New Republic 21 December 1992: 27-31.

Turvey, Malcolm. "Black Film Making in the USA: The Case of Malcolm X." Wasafiri: Journal of Caribbean, African, Asian and Associated Literatures and Film 18 (Autumn 1993): 53-56.

Winn, J.E. "Challenges and Compromises in Spike Lee's Malcolm X." Communication Abstracts 25.3 (2002): 287-426.

Video/Audio Resources

Malcolm X, the Movie: Cinema as History. Videorecording. Hosted by Sanford Ungar. West Lafayette: Purdue University Public Affairs Archives, 1993.
"A panel discussion at the American University's School of Communications, hosted by Sanford Ungar. Panelists Pat Dowell, Juan Williams, Peter Bailey, Jacquie Jones, Al Freeman, Jr., and Christopher Hitchens discuss how the historical character of Malcolm X is portrayed in Spike Lee's motion picture."
Malcolm X: Man, Myth and Movie. ABC News. Hosted by Ted Koppel. Videocassette. Oak Forest: MPI Home Video, 1992.
Excerpts from footage of this film are shown and people that knew him interviewed. A panel of high school students react to the film, and Spike Lee is interviewed. (Unseen: Information from WorldCat.)
Malcolm X: The Man, the Myth, the Movie Explored. Videorecording. Richmond: Evans Videography, 1992.
"Panel discussion held 11-19-92 at the Richmond Public Library."

Online Resources

Derry, Charles. "Spike Lee." Film Reference.
Facts and brief analysis of Lee's career.