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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Malcolm X [Blu-ray]


(Spike Lee, 1992)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Warner

Video: Warner



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 3:21:41.172

Disc Size: 38,719,486,637 bytes

Feature Size: 35,841,472,512 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.98 Mbps

Chapters: 52

Case: Digi-Book Blu-ray case

Release date: January 31st, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2205 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2205 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround



English (SDH), Danish, Finnish, French, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, none



Behind the Story - Commentary by Spike Lee, Ernest Dickerson, Barry Alexander Brown and Ruth Carter

By Any Means Necessary: The Making of Malcolm X (30:28)

• 9 Deleted Scenes (20:54) with Introduction by Spike Lee (1:04)

• Trailer (2:51)





Description: Filmmaker Spike Lee, star Denzel Washington (the New York, Boston and Chicago Film Critics' choice as 1992's Best Actor) and other talents vividly portray the life and times of the visionary leader. "One of the decade's best and most important films." (Arch Campbell, WRC-TV/Washington D.C.) One of the most charismatic and politically controversial voices in history, Malcolm X burst into the public consciousness with a radical perspective on race relations in America. His inspiring and enlightening ideologies touched and continue to influence the lives of millions. The New York Film Critic's Circle awarded Denzel Washington Best Actor for his role in what Newsday calls "an extraordinary movie...powerful and compelling. Denzel Washington's performance is a tour de force!"



The Film:

Lee's labour of love is arguably his most anonymous film to date, with fewer in-your-face stylistic flourishes or confrontational ideological statements than his earlier works. True, the scenes of young Malcolm (Washington) and his pal Shorty (Lee) at a Boston dance hall exhibit a fizzy choreographic flair; true, too, that the opening credits footage of the Rodney King beating hints at an anger none too shy of courting controversy. But mostly, while the film glides from Malcolm's early years as a hustler and petty criminal to his emergence in the Nation of Islam, it plays surprisingly safe as a solidly crafted trawl through the didactic/hagiographic conventions of the mainstream biopic.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Malcolm X lived a dozen different lives, each in its way a defining aspect of the black American experience from nightmare to dream. There was never any in-between for the man who was initially called Malcolm Little, the son of a Nebraska preacher, and who, when he died, was known by his Muslim name, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Malcolm traveled far, through many incarnations to become as much admired as he was feared as the black liberation movement's most militant spokesman and unrelenting conscience.

Malcolm was already something of a myth when he was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York on Feb. 21, 1965, just three months short of his 40th birthday. The publication later that year of "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," his remarkably vivid testament written with Alex Haley, eventually consolidated his position as a great American folk hero, someone whose life speaks with uncanny pertinence to succeeding generations, white as well as black.

Excerpt from Vincent Canby at the NY Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Malcolm X looks decent on Blu-ray from Warner. With the film's extensive length we get a modest bitrate on the 1.78:1 framed image.  It showcases some textured grain and occasional depth. I'm not sure that the film can look that much better than this on digital. The pseudo-archival media footage looks wonderful in black and white. This is dual-layered and colors and contrast loom impressively. The visuals are bright, consistent and supply a strong presentation. The film's art direction is brilliant and should be commended. I found no notable flaws with the HD video quality and it has no gloss or manipulation at all.



















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 2205 kbps is clean and clear without exporting extensive separation. But there is some desirable depth. The Spike Lee go-to-composer is Terence Blanchard who has worked on most of the director's films and his efforts here support Malcolm X extremely well via the uncompressed track. I found instances that were fairly dynamic but biopic is centrally dialogue-driven. There are some foreign-language stereo DUBs and optional subtitles offered. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Supplements duplicate the 2005 2-disc Warner DVD with the commentary by Spike Lee, Ernest Dickerson, Barry Alexander Brown and Ruth Carter going to great lengths to expand on information imparted in the 3.5 hour film. By Any Means Necessary: The Making of Malcolm X runs 1/2 an hour and there are also 9 Deleted Scenes (20:54) with a short introduction by Spike Lee. There is also a trailer and the disc is housed in a wonderful Digi-book that includes the an essay "Spike Lee: Meeting Controversy Head On”, as well as a 'Timeline of Events in the Life of Malcolm X'. The enclosed DVD has the 1.5 hour, 1972, documentary simply entitled Malcolm X. This is narrated by James Earl Jones who quotes from The Autobiography of Malcolm X and is a must for those seeking further information on the intriguing leader.



Malcolm X is an important film that attempts to uncover huge stones through Lee's lengthy biopic. What an incredible effort. I think Denzel Washington's performance is extremely important to the film's appreciation. As details of the man's life are uncovered - we get absorbed into the narrative - with Spike Lee unselfishly avoiding extensive style signatures.  The Blu-ray offers so much that it is like owning an family encyclopedia - on one devastatingly viable topic. You could teach a course solely on the film and supplements provided. It's not often you get so much from one film experience. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

January 26th, 2012



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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