Selma: Movie Review
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In a day and age when basic human rights are violated, when the freedom of speech is met with an assassin's gun, Selma inspires hope in the face of stark, unrighteous opposition. Director Ava DuVernay honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy by giving audiences a sobering look at our nation's past.
This buzzworthy film, starring Golden Globe nominated actor David Oyelowo, not only focuses on what King and his compatriots accomplish through their non-violent protests in 1960s Alabama, but also the personal struggles this Southern Baptist minister and family man faced behind the scenes.
THE MOVIE IN A MINUTE
Gaining recognition for his contribution to the American Civil Rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Oyelowo) had the ear of President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson). Strides were being made toward freedom and equality for black men and women the South, but it was far from completion. To protest for equal voting rights, Dr. King and his brothers and sisters in the cause decided to make Selma, Alabama, their campaign starting point. It's there that King challenged the systematic oppression levied by the prejudiced, and often violent, local community, as well as the local and state officials. They would march for their rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, no matter what or who may stand in their way.
THE GOOD AND BAD IN SELMA
Nominated for four Golden Globe Awards (including Best Motion Picture—Drama), Selma is likely to garner high profile Oscar nominations this year. Chief among its triumphs is the outstanding Oyelowo, a British actor who's taken the large task of portraying this American hero in glorious stride. DuVernay's direction of this cinematic achievement is notable. From the acting to its incredible cinematography, Selma has the makings of a national treasure for the contribution it makes to historically based films.
With Selma's emphasis on King's and his co-laborers work during the Selma campaign of 1965 to secure the lawful voting rights of disregarded blacks facing Billy clubs and tear gas, audiences are given a broader picture of the time and trials befalling people of color in the South. We see a people humbled, yet stand strong in the face of subjugation. King's Christian faith plays a significant role in the film, as it did in the minister's life. That leads into something else the movie accomplished. It zeroes in on the personal side of Dr. King. Scenes in Selma point to the flaws he had, reminding the audience that this hero was also a mere man. Seeing this side of him is all the more compelling for it prompts us to evaluate the greatness within us all—should we follow God's leading in a righteous cause.
Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material including violence, a suggestive moment, and brief strong language, Selma is not appropriate for young audiences. Parents should weigh its strong content, but do so carefully as this is a part of our history that should be relived by older generations and exposed to younger ones.
IN THE END
Selma is one of the best films of this awards year. Will it grab the Golden Globe for Best Picture (Drama)? That remains to be seen. What we can know is that DuVernay, her cast and crew deserve applause for their contribution to this great picture.
Note: If the gasps heard from the audience at the screening I attended are any indication of our society's lack of knowledge of the events in Selma, then we are in danger of forgetting part of our country's painful past. May we move forward in reconciliation and healing, but never forget the cost of freedom for all.
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