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Selma Review II

Written by: Christine Eccelston-Craig


Directed by the outstanding Ava DuVernay, Selma is a sensational movie focussing on Dr Martin Luther Kings struggle in the fight for equality during the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. Filmmaker DuVernays’ main objectives in telling the story of the 1965 Civil Rights marches in Selma, Alabama is to remind the audience of a time where black people were degraded, abused and simply miss-treated based on the colour of their skin. The movie focuses on the brutal violence that black people had to endure, not to mention how many had to die in order to pave the way for future generations. While many people are aware of the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s Ms DuVernay does an exceptional job as she brings to light more detailed events to ensure our knowledge of this epic movement is not clouded.

“What happens when a man stands up and says enough is enough?”

When Reverend King (played by British actor David Oyelowo), his wife Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejogo, another British actor) and the members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) bring their activist campaign for full racial equality to the heart of the Old South in the days where there were strict segregation laws, Martin Luther King’s efforts are anything but subtle as he preaches words of Gandhi and Jesus, his non-violent approach to an equal society quite often leaves him with blood on his hands. But King was a real trooper because despite the many deaths of blacks in the south, he kept on striving! His attorney Fred (Cuba Gooding Jr), Reverend Hosea Williams (Wendell Pierce), Reverend Ralph Abernathy (Ruben Santiago- Hudsen) and their followers knew they would be faced with violent opposing campaigning thugs and perhaps might even be killed, but with the guidance of Dr King and the never ending faith in one another they persevere and continue their righteous fight for an equal and fair society.
Selma_Film_OyelowoOyelowo (Last King of Scotland, Rise of The Planet of the Apes) did an awesome job becoming Dr King and I’m not just talking about the fact that there was a slightly shocking resemblance between the two. His mannerisms and his authoritative voice filled with inspiring words really captured the heart of who Dr King was and why he had so many followers. We all know Martin Luther King was undeniably an amazing orator, so Oyelowo had a tough job incorporating that on screen, but he managed to capture it so well, as an audience you feel like you’re actually living in this harsh era, suffering under the deprivation of your Civil and Human Rights. But the light to guide you to peace and harmony is the astounding Dr King. (Yes, I got all of that just from watching David Oyelowo).

“We built the path as we came; rock by rock”

We cannot forget the film’s producer Oprah Winfrey as she plays a very believable resident of Selma, Annie Lee Cooper. I feel like this role was almost instinctive to her as she played a similar role in The Colour Purple as Sofia. Now, many of the other African- American actors tend to fall into the background whilst fading into the crowd, with the exception of Jimmy Lee Jackson (Keith Stanfield), Malcom X (Nigel Thatch) and gospel singer Mahalia Jackson (Ledisi Young). Director DuVernay frequently shines her light on the righteous activists, but in a large-scale movie like this one the unjustly persecuted are never quite as interesting as the lowdown scoundrels they face. I mean, who doesn’t love a character that really brings the rage out of you? Much like Alabama Governor George Wallace (Tim Roth) who is a monster! His constant efforts to maintain segregation in his state along with his condescending sarcastic tone is seriously frustrating! However, actor Tim Roth did a pretty good job agitating the audience through his role as George Wallace. So, in a way, I guess it’s well done to him.

“You got one big issue I got 101!”

The appearance of Lyndon B. Johnson (again, played by British actor Tom Wilkinson), gives a certain political dimension. He almost puts the line between the political realism and the fight to make the idealistic view of equality a reality. He often speaks about how he has several issues to deal with as a president, so the passing of more Civil Rights legislation is a minor issue and can be put off for a couple years. In simpler terms, he was an idiot. But without going too much into the history itself let’s get back to this movie. I want to quickly note that as the movie rolls on you can literally notice how many American characters are actually played by British actors (Oyelowo, Ejogo, Roth and Wilkinson). In addition, the entire lighting for this film was quite dark, not misty or foggy, just dark, as if it were representing the intensity of the struggle, or they were just trying to make it look a little more old fashioned. Either way, the lighting gave you a sense of sorrow and even despair. Your emotions are guaranteed to run high once you watch this movie, tears of sadness, anger and happiness, all rolled up into one. You must not miss out on this movie. As I conclude this review I’d like to leave you with this…


“Those that have gone before us say no more, we’ve come too far to turn back now!”
We can still make a change!



Marlon Palmer

Thanks Christine we feel proud to have our young people embrace important moments in history and espouse their thoughts and feelings to the wider community – it is for all black people to know and appreciate what has gone before so people of an African descent today can be afforded the opportunities they now have!