Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing an early screening on the film ‘Selma.’
Directed by Ava DuVarney and written by Paul Webb, the movie takes a graphic look at the steps Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others took to get the voters act of 1965 signed.
Starring David Oyelowo as Dr. King Jr and Carmen Ejogo as his wife Coretta Scott-King, you get a peek into a dangerous yet important time in American History.
The film starts off with Dr. King preparing to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his civil rights work. At the same time, you see four Black girls, being children, discussing how Coretta Scott-King’s hair is naturally straight and other child thoughts when an explosion rips through the church killing the girls and others in Alabama.
At that moment, the battle ground is set and Dr. King knows that the next city that needs to fall in Alabama is Selma.
King, along with Andrew Young, Hosea Williams, James Bevel and John Lewis, they descend onto Selma with one goal in mind, let Governor David Wallace know that Blacks will be allowed to vote.
As complicated as that task it, reality on complicate matters more. In-house bickering between SNCC and Dr. King’s camp over who should be leading the charge in Selma, as well as a clash of titans between Malcolm X and Dr. King show that egos can threaten to ruin even the most honorable missions.
Despite riffs from inside the camp, and issues on the home front, King and the team managed to unite citizens from across the country to peacefully march 500 miles from Selma Alabama to the states Capitol in Montgomery for voters rights.
As great as the movie and the depiction of the times were, it was the interaction between characters that makes this movie an emotional journey. Dr. King and his wife deal with rumors of adultery, while a collaborative effort between Malcolm X and Dr. King is thwarted thanks to ego and jealousy.
One character who was amazing to me was George Wallace. The former Governor of Alabama played flawlessly by Tim Roth showed how people play political games with people lives, but how callously they can do it.
One thing I didn’t like about his character was how he was depicted towards the end. When the film wraps up, they mention that Wallace ran for President and that he was later paralyzed in 1972 after an assassination attempt. What was not mentioned, was his come to Jesus moment later in life when he renounced his racism and worked hard to alter that image he created for himself.
Overall, the movie was pretty on point. The parallels you can draw from small town Selma to small town Ferguson will be noticed by many. Also, the violence employed by the police will leave many in tears. Even with the pain it was to watch real people do amazing things, all while battling everyday issues was great to see.
‘Selma’ was more than a historic look in time. It was a poignant look at people, places and moments, that are still happening to this day.