The Battle to Film Malcolm X

To portray the black hero his way, Spike Lee has taken on rival directors, black activists, the studio and the budget

School Daze? Blacks complained that it demeaned black coeds. Do the Right Thing? Whites fumed that it promoted interracial violence. Jungle Fever? The director himself groused that racism deprived it of an award at the Cannes Film Festival. Feisty black filmmaker Spike Lee is no stranger to controversy. Each of the five movies he has made since 1986 about the African-American experience has stirred up some kind of fuss. But none of Lee's previous flaps compares to the troubles that have stalked his latest, most ambitious film, Malcolm X.

X, as insiders call it, won't be released until the Christmas season....