Directed by Ava
Released on February 6th 2015
What readily springs to mind when watching this biopic of Martin Luther
King Jr. is how relevant its portrayal of America in the 1960s is to contemporary
The obvious example being the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, when
an unarmed black man was shot dead by white police marksmen. This shameful
act led to weeks of violence in various American cities, with political
leaders, both black and white, pleading for reform of the criminal justice
system in the name of equality.
On a less serious note, but still controversial, was the recent news
about the Oscar nominations, when a mainly white group of people, suggesting
very few of them to non-white actors, directors - Selma is directed by
a black American woman Ava DuVernay - cinematographers, musicians, etc.
Although a very watchable film, not just a predictable run through of
his famous speeches and confrontations with top politicians, including
Lyndon B. Johnson, played well by Tom Wilkinson, Selma would have benefited
from not having star celebrity actors such as Oprah Winfrey and Martin
Sheen in the cast, to give it a more authentic feel.
King, based in Selma, Alabama, and his cohorts, helped to aid the civil
rights movement, with him, thankfully, being painted as a three dimensional
figure in the film, including his character faults.
Days after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, he attempted to establish
voting rights for blacks who had been systematically disenfranchised and
intimidated, notably in the South.
Surprisingly DuVernay chose a British actor, David Oyelowo, not an American
one, to portray King, which he does with elan.
Incidentally, he, along with Winfrey, and hundreds of others, marched
in Selma in a tribute to King, in one of the many events staged throughout
the USA, ushering a federal holiday on 19 January for the slain civil
The movie should not be relevant in 2015 but sadly that is the case.
The question has to be asked, who are the figures of today who could
match, or even surpass, the achievements of King? I guess the answer would
be no one, such was the magnetism, authority and vision of King.
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