I have never been too fond of movies retelling history. Hollywood tends to twist the story and the chronological order of events, but Selma has caught my eye and showed me that there may be hope in the entertainment business for a true depiction of the past.
Like the film’s name, the story revolves around the events of the historic 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches. The movie depicts an in-depth story (as much as it can) of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and those revolving around the civil rights movement and their struggles trying to achieve secure voting rights for the black community.
Selma starts off in December 1964, when King is accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, but also shows his unsatisfied desire to excel in the civil rights movement.
King then gathers with his friends and leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference – Ralph Abernathy (Colman Domingo), Andrew Young (Andre Holland), the Rev. C.T. Vivian (Corey Reynolds), James Orange (Omar J. Dorsey), James Bevel (Common) – and heads to Selma, Ala., in hopes of gaining the media’s attention by exposing the racism in the area. King has just met President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson), who has denied his bid to get a law passed against voting restrictions. SCLC leaders then meet with John Lewis (Stephan James) and James Forman (Trai Byers) of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to work together and organize protests.
The story follows the order of history, showing the Selma County Courthouse protest and the death of a white ally. It also portrays the arrest of King and other activists. Throughout the film, director Ava DuVernay focuses the camera’s attention on many individuals who influence the black community to keep on going in this fight.
All the actors do an excellent job and portray an accurate image of whom they are playing. The give performances that will anger, sadden and bring joy to the viewer. Oyelowo outdoes himself as King, from getting his accent and tone of voice right on the spot to his hand movements and gestures.
Though his appearance resembles King only by a small percentage, he begins to grow on you throughout the movie.
From the 1960s vibe and color of the picture to its outstanding black folk music and instrumental soundtrack, Selma is an excellent feature film providing on-point historical events and reactions of historical people. It’s a movie well worth watching.