42/Malcolm X [2 Discs] [DVD]

This double feature brings together two biopics of iconic African-American figures: 42 starring Chadwick Boseman as color-barrier breaking baseball player Jack Robinson, and Malcolm X starring Denzel Washington.
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Overview

Synopsis

Malcolm X
Writer-director Spike Lee's epic portrayal of the life and times of the slain civil rights leader Malcolm X begins with the cross-cut imagery of the police beating of black motorist Rodney King juxtaposed with an American flag burning into the shape of the letter X. When the film's narrative begins moments later, it jumps back to World War II-era Boston, where Malcolm Little (Denzel Washington) is making his living as a hustler. The son of a Baptist preacher who was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan, Little was raised by foster parents after his mother was deemed clinically insane; as an adult, he turned to a life of crime, which leads to his imprisonment on burglary charges. In jail, Little receives epiphany in the form of an introduction to Islam; he is especially taken with the lessons of Elijah Mohammed, who comes to him in a vision. Adopting the name 'Malcolm X' as a rejection of the 'Little' surname (given his family by white slave owners), he meets the real Elijah Mohammed (Al Freeman, Jr.) upon exiting prison, and begins work as a spokesman for the Nation of Islam. Marriage to a Muslim nurse named Betty Shabazz (Angela Bassett) follows, after which X spearheads a well-attended march on a Harlem hospital housing a Muslim recovering from an episode of police brutality. The march's success helps elevate X to the position of Islam's national spokesperson. There is dissension in the ranks, however, and soon X is targeted for assassination by other Nation leaders; even Elijah Mohammed fears Malcolm's growing influence. After getting wind of the murder plot, X leaves the Nation of Islam, embarking on a pilgrimage to Mecca that proves revelatory; renouncing his separatist beliefs, his oratories begin embracing all races and cultures. During a 1965 speech, Malcolm X is shot and killed, reportedly by Nation of Islam members. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi

42
Brian Helgeland's historical sports drama/biopic 42 relates the historic 1947 baseball season in which Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) decides to sign the first black Major League player, Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman). Although Robinson faces ugly, vicious racism from other clubs, fans, and on occasion his own teammates, Rickey encourages him to not fight back. By following that advice, Robinson allows his remarkable athletic talent to speak for itself, and soon the first-year player becomes one the most popular players on the team, eventually securing the Rookie of the Year award. Christopher Meloni and Hamish Linklater co-star. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Denzel Washington
    Denzel Washington - Malcolm X
  • Spike Lee
    Spike Lee - Shorty
  • Angela Bassett
    Angela Bassett - Betty Shabazz
  • Al Freeman, Jr.
    Al Freeman, Jr. - Elijah Muhammad
  • Delroy Lindo
    Delroy Lindo - West Indian Archie
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