Death of a Prophet (1981)

Of all the films out there I’ve seen about Malcolm X, this one has to be the worst. Written and directed by Woodie King Jr., Death of a Prophet begins with clips of interviews with various people who knew Malcolm X. These people are not identified as they speak, so unless you recognize them, you are out of luck. Then these various clips segue into the fictional depiction of the last day of Malcolm X until his assassination in the Audubon ballroom. Morgan Freeman plays a somber Malcolm X during his last hours. The total running time of the film, including archival footage and interviews is 60 minutes.

The dramatised version of events comes off as some sort of cheesy television reenactment. Although the film categorically states it is a depiction of the last 24 hours of Malcolm X’s life, one of the segments of the dramatisation depicts the fire-bombing of his home which occurred a week before his death, and its inclusion in the film’s specified timeline gives the impression that it happened the night before his assassination. Morgan Freeman plays Malcolm X as a quiet, subdued, depressed individual whose sense of doom is omnipresent.

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Filed under Political/social films

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