Malcolm X is on a worthy list of renowned biographical films. With Spike Lee as the director, which some might be more excited about than others, and household Hollywood names like Denzel Washington and Angela Bassett on the cast, this film depicts the journey of a man whom many remember as Malcolm X. Having seen this movie many times before, it was an interesting experience watching it a bit more techically, looking for any specifics that may have been used to enhance the viewer's experience watching the movie. There were many elements of mise-en-scene that were vital for showing an authentic depiction of events in Malcolm's life. The many costumes used for Malcolm ranged from a jazz-club regular scheming gangster to a suit-wearing black supremacist. We endure varying styles of music and language throughout the movie, due to the changing of times from Malcolm's early life in the 1940's all the way up to his assassination in 1965. In terms of editing, Lee obviously had to show some continuity in the story. Continuity is important for a movie of this nature because the goal is to accurately portray simultaneous significant events in a person's life.
Continuity editing involves temporal patterns which follow human rhythms of growth, memory, and desire. Spike Lee's continuity editing made for a chronological story, revolving around the challenges, memories, and desires of Malcolm X. When the memories of a specific character are that subjective, there tends to be more room for flashback sequences, and we get those in Malcolm X. While Lee was showing us the progression of Malcolm's life from young adulthood, he took some brief moments to show some themes from Malcolm's childhood. The flashbacks proved to be instrumental in the decisions he made later on in life. For example, his white grade school teacher who told him that being a lawyer was an unrealistic goal for a black person. We saw a brief scene with Malcolm as a child, and the white woman who tried to take him away after his father died. These flashbacks proved to be most influential in his decision to join the Black Muslims, which ended up being a huge turning point in his life and the movie. Learning more about Malcolm's childhood therefore helps the audience identify more with his character because we understand his background and how the effects of society made him what he was.