September 21, 2021

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Review of ‘Blood Brothers: Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali’

4 min read

“Blood Brothers” floats on perceptual interviews, rich archival photos, and pointed neural footage. It is also very short-lived, immersed in the search for two iconic, uncompromising people who were friends (the film argues persuasively) spelling too short. Directors Marcus A. Clarke used Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith’s “Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X” as a touchstone for the documentary – available on Netflix – but as a black man in the United States Sensitive.

The two, imagined by “One Night in Miami”, came close to the end of their deep bond when they celebrated Cassius Clay’s victory over Sonny Liston in the 1964 heavyweight title fight. Although Malcolm X was 16 years older, there were similarities. Every tangible curiosity. Everyone took off their gloves and faced white racism. Both were oral stylists. Ali poetic candle. Malcolm X ignited the fire with a rhetorical and spiritual perspective rooted in Marcus Garvey’s Pan-Africanism and its development in Eliza Muhammad’s Nation of Islam.

“Blood Brothers” describes the well-known events that led Malcolm Little to the nation of Islam. It also describes cultural and personal moments – from the one that killed Emmett to one – that led a teenager in Louisville, KY, to question white supremacy. Jean Kilroy, a friend and business manager, said an angry Epiphany Ali said during a visit to a white church where the congregation sang exactly the same hymn that his Southern Baptist family sang every Sunday. The same song and yet the white priest told him to leave.

Although White racism is a presence, it is most often said in a complex friendship portrait of “Blood Brothers”, which surrounds power and trust. The movie does not question the sincerity of people’s love for others. There are two pictures that are particularly interesting for their abundance of pleasure: one features Malcolm, his wife Betty Shahbaz and their little girls. Ali is just Bimal. The other was shot on the night of the Miami victory. The movie does an interesting job of highlighting how weak this relationship was due to their beliefs due to Ali’s ascent between race and nation. In an initial clip, Ali reads a statement about Jesus and Judas that explicitly states that he saw Malcolm X’s Elias as a betrayal of Muhammad. For the record, that quote came a few years after Malcolm’s assassination.

The cultural meanings of Ali and Malcolm X are still being analyzed and probably being reconstructed. “Blood Brothers” emphasizes the changing demands on leaders. They can be pinned like butterflies that resonate ideally for those they inspire. Defendant Ali was there. Ali was sick there. There was the burning Malcolm X and there was the reflecting Malcolm X.

A research paper can be written about the legacy of Ali and Malcolm X and how their daughters have maintained it here. The film begins with Ilyasah Shabaz saying that her father and Cassius Clay were scheduled to meet. Towards the end of the film, writer Hana Ali shares that her father’s biggest regret was turning his back on Malcolm X.

The Rev. Al Sharpton offered one of the more provocative descriptions of Malcolm X’s influence at the time: “Martin Luther King Jr. … talked to us about who we should be. Malcolm talked to us and who put us there.” There are interviews with Rahman Ali in between. Ali makes a poignant claim to his older brother. “I can proudly say that I am Mohammad Ali’s only brother,” he said when we see him walking towards his brother’s graveyard.

In the most devastating sequel to Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X”, the camera follows Malcolm leading the murder in Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom. Denzel Washington’s Malcolm thinks he’s the most outgoing person in the world. “Blood Brothers” confirms how spot-on the film was. Yes, she had the unlimited support of Betty Shabaz, but her Ersataj father figure Eliza Muhammad withdrew her love, throwing Malcolm out of the nation. Legend of what Malcolm did in exile: He went to Mecca. He reformed his relationship with Islam. Ali will undergo a similar transformation in a few decades.

In May 1964, Malcolm X and Ali crossed the road to Ghana. Barely three months have passed since that night in Miami and everything has changed. Outside a hotel, Ali basically snatched his ex-friend and mentor. It crushes that hit, that sundering consideration. “Blood Brother” creates a provocative case for damage both personally and culturally and tries to repair that crack on its own.

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