The fight for the voting rights of African Americans is at the centre of the historical drama Selma. Shortly after winning the Nobel Peace Prize for leading the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) sets his sights on the town of Selma, Alabama, which imposes strict restrictions on black citizens, who try to register to vote. King hopes to use Selma as the catalyst to get President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) to introduce legislation for voting rights. However, when the president is reluctant to do so, King instead organizes a number of protests in Selma, including leading a march from the town to the Alabama capital of Montgomery.
Selma is a film that I only became aware of in the last month or so, when it arose to become a possible frontrunner in this year’s Oscar race. It is definitely amazing that this is the first film to be produced about Martin Luther King Jr. It is equally amazing that this first film about Martin Luther King takes place after he made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, as he continued his fight for Civil Rights in the the United States.
Selma is a pretty powerful film, particularly in how it does not flinch in showing how hard a fight this was. There is some hard to watch brutality at many points within the film, as the various protests are met with very violent opposition. In some ways, Selma is quite a timely film, with the recent re-emergence of racial tensions within the United States, though the incidents in Ferguson, Missouri. With racism still alive and well in the world today, Selma can serve as a reminder of how hard the fight for equality truly was.
Selma can also be seen as a star-making role for relatively unknown British actor David Oyelowo, who ends up being quite good in his lead role of Martin Luther King. The film also features a supporting cast of familiar faces, including Tom Wilkinson as Lyndon B. Johnson, Dylan Baker as J. Edgar Hoover, Tim Roth as Alabama Governor George Wallace, and Oprah Winfrey as Annie Lee Cooper.
There was some controversy in recent weeks about how historically accurate Selma is, particularly when it comes to its depiction of Lyndon B. Johnson, who in the film is reluctant to introduce legislation for voter rights. However, nitpicking like that shouldn’t really detract from the film, which is a powerful depiction of an important event of the Civil Rights Movement.9 | REALLY LIKED IT