New to DVD this week:
WHAT’S MY NAME: MUHAMMAD ALI
An archival appreciation of the legendary career of The Greatest.
Three-time world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, already the subject of numerous documentary profiles, receives another tribute here – this time, a nearly three-hour, self-narrated and archival-driven assemblage by noted action filmmaker Antoine Fuqua. Eschewing the personal, Fuqua’s portrait hones in on Ali’s professional and public life, tracing the development of Olympic gold medalist Cassius Clay into Muhammad Ali, including the various controversies of his boxing career and political and religious activism. As telegraphed by the project’s title, Ali’s very identity, and the dogged insistence for far too long of the media and his opponents to refer to him by his pre-Nation of Islam name, takes on an early significance here, demonstrating the combined racial and religious prejudice the athlete faced. At the same time, the film captures how Ali was a savvy self-publicist and myth-maker, carefully composing his image and making use of his fame, underscored by Fuqua’s decision to limit the film to archival video and audio recordings. While this retelling of Ali’s boxing career will be familiar to even casual admirers, it’s a very well-constructed one.