The X Factor

More than just a movie, Spike Lee's Malcolm X is a pop-culture sensation and an inspiration to blacks

What draws the crowds is the movie inside -- but outside, on the sidewalks, far more is going on than mere ticket buying. Vendors hawk books, buttons and photographs. Ticket holders passionately debate the film's subject even before + they see it. At one New York City theater last week, the director showed up to thank moviegoers for their support and was engulfed by a throng of youths eager for his autograph or a handshake. Meanwhile, at another theater across town, a street-corner activist paced in front of the waiting line, shouting, "Don't see this movie!"

After months of controversy and...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!