Netflix Explores the Bond Between Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali in 'Blood Brothers' Documentary
By Mekishana Pierre
Netflix is diving into the bond between two of the world's most iconic figures: Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. On Thursday, the streamer released the trailer for its upcoming documentary, Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali, chronicling the relationship between the two.
Inspired by the book Blood Brothers written by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith, the Kenya Barris-produced documentary follows the three-year friendship that changed the world. According to Blood Brothers' official synopsis, the film will tell the extraordinary story behind the friendship -- and the ultimate falling out -- of two of the most iconic figures of the 20th century that few people understood. Director Marcus A. Clarke provides a fresh perspective by using insider voices and never-before-seen footage to chart the complexity of their friendship, "tracing the near-simultaneous and symbiotic rise of the charismatic and outspoken Olympic champion who charmed the nation, and the ex-con-turned-intellectual revolutionary who railed against oppression."
The documentary features interviews with those closest to both men, including Malcolm X's daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz -- who is currently developing a series following her father's childhood and activist career -- Ali's brother, Rahman, and his daughters, Maryum and Hana. Cultural luminaries such as Cornel West and Al Sharpton will also make appearances. The film promises to highlight their meeting, bonding, and eventual falling out over discord within the leadership of the Nation of Islam.
The Regina King-directed film One Night in Miami explored similar dynamics, depicting the time Malcolm X, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Muhammad Ali converged upon a hotel in Florida in 1964. Malcolm (Kingsley Ben-Adir), football great Brown (Aldis Hodge), soul singer Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and the boxer then known as Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) gather to celebrate the latter's championship win when the conversation quickly turns to race and responsibility, with the men tussling over the best way to move forward and debating who is using their platform to what end.
Scriptwriter Kemp Powers told ET that the film's aim is "the humanization of these men" rather than idolizing them.
"We always say that we have to be so superhuman to be Black and American, we can sometimes take that to the point where people forget about our humanity and forget that we have emotions and that we feel pain," he explained. "Showing even a little bit of vulnerability -- and that's all we show is a little bit of it -- showing Malcolm talking to his daughter, showing that all this racism is affecting Jim in the smallest amount and showing Muhammad Ali have just a little bit of doubt is that extraordinary, and it shouldn't be."