‘Selma. Selma? What’s that about then? Confused. What kind of title is this for a film (?)’
These were the questions that ran through my mind when hearing about this film. I Still wanted to see it though. It will probably be in the minds of other filmgoers too. I must say it was unfamiliar to me. Intriguing actually. I took my seat in the cinema and felt a bit nervous and excited about viewing this especially after realising what it would be about. It’s one of those films that completely captured my attention instantly. The whole entire cinema was silent in anticipation.
‘Selma’ is about the real life historical struggle of African Americans being able to legally exercise their civil right to register to vote unencumbered. Technically the South was legally desegregated in 1964 with the civil rights act, however segregation and discrimination remained in some parts. Change was long overdue.
Cue respected reverend and civil rights activist from Atlanta, Georgia, Dr Martin Luther King Jr (played by David Oyelowo) He respectfully meets with the President of America, Lyndon B Johnson (played by Tom Wilkinson) at the White House and demands there be change, to Pass the Voting Rights Act for black people. Now the meeting with the President doesn’t end successfully as Dr King is pretty much told that the civil rights of black people isn’t an urgent enough matter, there is an election coming up and it will get dealt with, later. No. That’s simply not good enough. It needs to happen now. That much is clear.
The need for this change is illustrated when we see the elderly Annie Lee Cooper (played by Oprah Winfrey) return to the city hall to register to vote, sit alone on a bench waiting for her name to be called. She knew she would be denied again, but she went anyway. Defeated but still believing she should have her right to vote. She represents everyone in that struggle. This particular scene I believe, let’s the audience form a bond with her character and creates the understanding of the all the emotions felt by many and this is threaded throughout the film
Going to Selma, Alabama. Dr King Jr manages to gain support from local black people and starts an entire movement with the help of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) of nonviolent retaliation with peaceful marches and protests in seeking freedom from their oppressors with or without the support of the President.
Just hearing the encouraging and powerful speeches Dr King Jr gives, he superbly underscores the determination, intelligence, restlessness and strength needed to overcome this type of battle. Listening to him empower his followers felt like being in Church again. His words are intense, heart felt and met with rapturous applause from the people, it made my heart beat so fast as if it were me getting ready to hit the streets.
This was the calm before the storm. They knew by marching they would be met by attack, beatings, whippings, gassings and literal bloody brutality. Death was an everyday possibility but a necessary risk. I could not get over that what I was watching was a sincere, portrayal of what had been going on for such a long time.
Watching this film, I was not being entertained, I was being educated and quite beautifully and powerfully so. I am not usually the overly emotional type but If you are, watching this will give you the opportunity at reflection and serious contemplation about a myriad of things, especially just people, people trying to live their lives. Make sure you have some pocket tissues ladies and gentlemen.
In Selma, Blacks are treated like second class citizens in America. The constant barrage of abuse, violence, humiliation and killing the blacks of Selma are relentlessly subjected to from their white counterparts and the state endorsed racism would make any reasonable person wince.
The Director, Ava DuVernay has done a magnificent job in Directing this piece and taking me on this journey. I genuinely hope to see more of her work because it will be guaranteed quality if Selma is anything to go by. The types of camera angles used to portray certain aspects of what happened historically are extremely accurate and ignite a lot of emotion and passion. They are carried out very skillfully and is definitely evident through the violent scenes. It made me feel tense and very uncomfortable because of a knowing that something bad would follow on which only heightened the fear factor. Ava was very intentional with Selma and knew exactly what she was doing.
Most of us are quite aware of Dr Martin Luther King Jr just by the fame and awe that surrounds his name. There will certainly be many of those who won’t necessarily know what that fame is for. Selma delves right into the heart of that mystery for you and fills in the blanks.
I absolutely fell in love with Selma Its an all time favourite now. I would recommend this be shown in every school globally, and if not globally then certainly Nationally. There is so much to be gleaned from this educationally that would spur inquisitiveness to learn even more, that isn’t readily taught to every child. The more knowledgable we become, the better and less ignorant we shall be. Which is the point.
We had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing David Oyelowo after the premiere, he is inspiring, focused, and was absolutely commanding in his role as Dr King Jr.. The ending of Selma will only reiterate that for you. Watching the credits roll to the very end was in a way respecting what I’d just seen and allowing it to soak in and I guess was the cinematic equivalent of being floored. Just thoughts that left me blown away, a sentiment I feel many of those around me were touched with too.
I believe this spirit-filled performance will undoubtedly take David extremely far. The Best of British Talent for me so far indeed. It is the highest rated film of the year. Do not sleep on Selma, go and see it today.
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