Brother Minister - The Assassination of Malcolm X
New Video // Unrated // $19.99 // October 18, 2005
Review by Eric D. Snider | posted December 6, 2005
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version
THE MOVIE

The 1994 documentary "Brother Minister: The Assassination of Malcolm X" serves as a suitable biography of the controversial figure, albeit a very dry one. I don't know whether Spike Lee's "Malcolm X" is any more factual, but it's certainly more interesting.

The film starts with various eyewitnesses' accounts of Malcolm's 1964 assassination, complete with badly done (and unnecessary) reenactments, mingled with actual footage. It then goes back in time to tell of Malcolm's rise to prominence -- his apprenticeship under Elijah Muhammed, his eventual break from the Black Muslim group -- before catching up to its timeline and coming around to Malcolm's murder again.

Time has softened society's view of Malcolm X. At the time of his assassination, the New York Times ran the headline "The Apostle of Hate Is Dead." Today, helped by the passage of time and by Lee's sympathetic film, Malcolm remains controversial but seems to have gained greater understanding among people in general.

That said, the documentary, which is pro-Malcolm but not rabidly so, strikes a bland, no-frills tone. Interview subjects share their memories and thoughts but seldom with much enthusiasm, and little of what they say is revelatory. It's a movie for hardcore Malcolm X fans (followers?), but no one else.

THE DVD

VIDEO: The film was shot in a 1.33:1 ratio and appears here that way. (Strangely, the extras are letterboxed.) Most of the film was shot on video and has a low-budget (I won't call it "cheap") look to it. It's definitely a no-frills movie.

AUDIO: The audio is in basic stereo. Roscoe Lee Browne's narration often sounds muddy and bassy, sometimes to the point of being hard to follow. Otherwise, the audio is fine.

EXTRAS: Two new interviews are included. In one 23-minute segment, Abdullah Abdur Razzaq (once known as James 67X Warden), one of Malcolm's closest cronies, gives some background through his personal reminiscences. He's a colorful character, and some of his ramblings are enlightening.

The film's director, Jack Baxter, is the subject of the other interview, which runs 12 minutes. It contains the sort of information normally included in a director's commentary.

IN SUMMARY

Only the most ardent supporters of Malcolm X are liable to find much enjoyment in this undistinguished documentary.



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