As a novice at film reviews, I begin from the question: did this film touch me? And the answer with Selma is a resounding yes.
Directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Paul Webb, Selma stars British actor David Oyelowo alongside Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth, Oprah Winfrey, Giovanni Ribisi, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Martin Sheen. The story is based on the life of Dr Martin Luther King, and depicts the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, USA, which resulted in the president signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Obstructed from their entitlement to vote in the southern states of America, black protesters confront the authorities in a non-violent protest. But it is a confrontation which, witnessed by the eyes of the world, sees the brutal violence of the state troopers against peaceful protesters. On the Edmund Pettus Bridge men and women are beaten and whipped resulting in injury and deaths.
As I settled into the opening scenes of the film, I was abruptly shaken by the early scene of a violent act which appeared without ceremony. This simplicity made me sit up and take notice.
Within its cinematic walls, the timeline of this film is given an artistic fluidity; events which occurred years apart take place within the months of the film’s remit. And yet in doing so, the interminable struggle for ‘dignity’ is well framed.
Lead actor, David Oyelewo, is so convincing in his portrayal of King, that there were moments I was almost on my feet, applauding. Delivering the essence of King’s speeches, he captures the rhythms and cadence of this voice of the Civil Rights Movement, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. But there were personal struggles too; King was a man with personal dilemmas and vulnerabilities and Oyelewo performed these moments with equal conviction.
This is a thought provoking, compelling film. It raises a consciousness in us all and is highly recommended.