American biographical drama from 2014.
Starring: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth
Director: Ava DuVernay
Writer: Paul Webb
Bechdel test: Pass
The black population of Selma, Alabama is prevented from voting by the racist practices of voter registration officials back in 1964. Dr Marin Luther King, Jr and other members of the non-violent Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) travel to Selma in order to help organize passive resistance to these voter registration denials.
Watching “Selma” was a bittersweet experience. We all know what happens to Dr King a few years after the Selma to Montgomery marches, and we also know that the struggle helped black voters.
Seeing a dramatization of events we all know from history books could become a bit tensionless, but the movie takes us behind the scenes enough to make us curious about how the marches actually helped. We see that the negative publicity from the marches is leveraged against politicians who are initially unwilling to act, and how the leaders who do this pressuring is an essential part of effecting change. In addition to being a lesson in political work, it also creates the tension in the movie. What is it that is going on behind the scenes in this monumental moment in US history?
The movie begins with Dr Martin Luther King, Jr receiving the Nobel Piece Prize, an award that can help to put political pressure on an issue. The SCLC then chose a place to next put their attention based on what visuals the chosen site will create, and Selma is the winner.
The movie then follows the Selma to Montgomery marches linearly, with a closer look at how pressure is put on elected officials and the personal struggles of Dr King. We get to know a man without any polished image of who he was, and this gives us an affinity for the character that creates part of the bitter sorrow when watching “Selma”. He becomes a real person that we know has little time left. The casualties of the civil rights movement that we actually see injured, or worse, in the movie is of course also a bitter part of this story.
“Selma” has a stark choice in colors that creates an image of a dramatic and tragic story. The visuals are strong, and there is none of the crispness and lighthearted mood of the civil rights movie from a few days ago; “The Help“.
The acting was good in every scene and I detected no weak performances in any role, which is quite nice in a movie with this large a cast present in many scenes. Especially brilliant was David Oyelowo as Dr King. His performance is an important part of why this movie is good.
The choice of telling the story this way, with an insight into how these marches worked and stopped the racist practices of voter registration in Alabama, makes this movie more then just a telling of this one struggle. This is an important lesson in political processes and the forth estate. Maybe something we all should know and see, both in general, and especially now when the media sometimes is referred to as fake news.
“Selma” is both a good and important movie. Next time I think it’s a hassle to go and vote, the struggle of the people in this movie will stop any such contemplations quickly.
I think everyone should Watch “Selma” at some point. Not a movie for children, though. I think many of the excerpts of speeches by Dr Martin Luther King, Jr also rings true today and the movie will show just how brilliant his insights into people was. Just sit back and enjoy.
Over to you
If you’ve recently seen “Selma” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.
41 movies down. 324 to go.
If you want to get “Selma” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?
Tomorrow’s movie is “There will be blood“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.
Until next time; live long and prosper.