Ava DuVernay's film Selma is a powerful cinematic telling of the lesser known chronicle of Martin Luther King Jr.'s campaign for equal voting rights.
The tale told in Selma is not the narrative of Dr. King’s fight for peace and social equality, but the peaceful dispute for voting power and autonomy.
Ava DuVernay directs the powerful story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. toward the later years in his life, as written in screenplay form by Paul Webb. The man we see is an accomplished and ultimately successful advocate and recognized by the Nobel committee for his efforts in the civil rights movement. His work as a reverend and a leader is far from finished. In 1965 he is brought to Alabama to lead a dangerous campaign for equal voting rights amidst a racially vitriolic environment.
Duvernay and Webb’s film is not an idealistic portrayal of a humanitarian and his movement but a realistic representation of a man. For over a decade King has been fighting, and the man we see is justifiably growing tired as the crusade turns increasingly complicated. David Oyelowo takes on the insurmountable task of portraying one of the most respected activists in American history and succeeds gracefully. Oyelowo encompasses the silent power and commanding oratory skills of the famous African-American Civil Rights advocate. Selma also has close to twenty compelling supporting roles, each matching Oyelowo’s dynamic performance.
Selma is a mighty cinematic experience that seems relatively historically accurate and free from severe embellishments, though I am not a historian so I can not say for sure. The political figures are varying shades of gray in a complex political climate. Further, DuVernay does not shy from the horror in the violence, neither does she exaggerate.
It will be surprising if Selma does not elicit an emotional response. The story may not bring out the tears from a sobbing cry of sorrow but will evoke the catching and hurtful ache from the pain of the racial injustice of that generation. A truly effective film will make its audience relate and sympathize, and that is just what the filmmakers of Selma accomplish. Such an emotionally evocative response taken from an artwork is a marvelous sentiment to achieve by its creators.
Selma (2014) – Review