Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

Accompanying ''Malcolm X''

The film inspires a variety of historical products featuring the activist, from books and videos to cassettes and CD’s

Posted on

Director Spike Lee’s Malcolm X has inspired more passionate interest in history than any other film in recent memory. And no movie premiere has ever been accompanied by such a flood of books, videos, cassettes, and CDs — some new, some dusted off and reissued. Here’s a brief, critical guide to some of the treatments of the black leader and his message.

In Print

MALCOLM X SPEAKS Edited by George Breitman
Of all the anthologies of Malcolm’s speeches, this is the most representative. It includes the full text of his greatest speech, ”The Ballot or the Bullet.” The only thing the book lacks is Malcolm’s mesmerizing speaking voice. A

MALCOLM: THE LIFE OF A MAN WHO CHANGED BLACK AMERICA By Bruce Perry
Through several hundred interviews, Perry presents a Malcolm who was far more complex and contradictory than the legend. He also uncovers details omitted or smoothed over in the autobiography. (One of the milder jolts: Malcolm’s father may not have been murdered by white supremacists, as Malcolm contended.) The reader is convinced by Perry’s research — and even more so of Malcolm’s stature. A

BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY: THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF THE MAKING OF MALCOLM X By Spike Lee with Ralph Wiley
Includes the screenplay of the current movie. Lee can be insufferably self-aggrandizing. But when you least expect it, he can also throw off blinding insight. A-

MALCOLM X: IN OUR OWN IMAGE Edited by Joe Wood
An anthology important not just for its topicality but for its look at ferment among late-20th-century black intellectuals. A

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X As Told to Alex Haley
Its veracity on isolated facts has been called into question, but its place in world literature has never seemed more assured. Whether the book is completely accurate isn’t the point. Overall, it tells the truth of African-American life with such transfiguring power that, even as you read these words, it is changing someone’s life. A+

BLACK BEAT SUPERSTAR SPECIAL #8: A TRIBUTE TO MALCOLM X
Malcolm in a teen fanzine, with pull-out poster, fact sheets, and lots of exclamation marks!!! C

On Video

MALCOLM X: EL HAJJ MALIK EL SHABAZZ
One in a made-for-video Black Heritage series, this documentary suffers from extremely poor production values. C

DEATH OF A PROPHET: THE LAST DAYS OF MALCOLM X
This 1982 blend of newsreels, interviews, and drama (Morgan Freeman is Malcolm) is thoughtful, though a bit awestruck. B-

MALCOLM X
This Oscar-nominated, dynamic 1972 documentary may be a better account of Malcolm than Lee’s movie. A

On Audio

MALCOLM X SPEAKS OUT
To hear him is to know him: He’s at his most commanding in these excerpts from 11 speeches. A

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X As Told to Alex Haley
Joe Morton reads Malcolm’s words and Roscoe Lee Brown provides narration; told with passion and a sense of urgency. A