“A Change is Gonna Come” – Sam Cooke (as used in Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X”)

A brilliant use of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” from Spike Lee’s stellar 1992 biopic “Malcolm X.”  The scene where Cooke’s masterpiece is utilized is a triumph of acting (Denzel Washington), editing (Barry Alexander Brown), cinematography (Ernest Dickerson), and direction (Lee). Considering what Malcolm was up against at this point in his life, the scene really conveys the sense of a man who is tired of running and has accepted that death is inevitable for the path he has chosen.  When you also consider this was one of Cooke’s last recordings before his violent death, it’s hard to watch this with a dry eye.

On a side note, Washington seriously got robbed at the 1992 Oscars.  To say that he should have been the winner for Best Actor for “Malcolm X” that year is an understatement.  While I like Al Pacino (and, yes, even like “Scent of a Woman”), Pacino should have gotten the Oscar for “The Godfather” or “Dog Day Afternoon” or even “Glengarry Glen Ross.”  That hammy “Whooo-ah!” nonsense from “Woman” started Pacino down a very, very bad path.


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