Movie Review: “Selma” – King of the Century

Written by Samah Ali January 26, 2015

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Martin Luther King: the man, the legend, the icon that united Black Americans everywhere, preaching love, peace and equality to the masses. This man, a human being who gained rights and votes for people of color across the United States, has been glorified as a God since his passing. Often referred to as MLK or Dr. King, it’s rare to see him depicted as an average man with family dynamics and marriage issues but “Selma” brought the humanity to his name and in turn made a breathtaking portrayal of the man behind the Civil Rights Movement.

Integration and voting has occurred but most Southern states refuse Black Americans from voting registration. In lieu of racial hate crimes, Dr. Martin Luther King, David Oyelowo, and his group of leaders travel to Selma, Alabama, a rural city with extreme violence and oppression for people of color, to evoke change and gain voting rights in the South. Planning to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, herds of police and government officials intend on stopping this march and slow down the momentum behind Dr. King.

 “There is no Negro problem or southern problem, there is an American Problem.”

“Selma” is a stylistic marvel. Director Ava DuVernay demands attention as her first studio feature remembers the blood shed and triumph of the Civil Rights Movement. Opening with a tragic start, DuVernay uses official logs to recall major moments of Dr. King’s whereabouts as well as recorded deaths resulting from the peaceful marches and demonstrations. Her progression was flawless, weaving moments of violent attacks, presidential conversations and civil rights debates throughout a scene without skipping a beat. Appropriate shots and locations amplified the power and belief people saw in Dr. King and how it translates to the figure we remember today. DuVernay directed an artistic and commendable feature and despite her lack of an Oscar nod, she made a gem that will be admired and watched for the end of time.

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“Man stands up only to be struck down”

David Oyelowo was the perfect person to play Martin Luther King. He was poetic, commanding, spiritual and inspiring, bringing imperfections and doubts to the seamless Dr. King. As he moved from the Oval Office to the streets of Selma, he walked with affirmation and determination towards his vision of a greater tomorrow, towards his dream. Oyelowo broke down the true elements of Dr. King in scenes expressing his devotions to his family while battling the weight of the Civil Rights Movement and other women. His pauses and hesitations added depth to his role, showing the thought process the Dr. King had in real time while marching and talking to his wife Coretta Scott King, played by Carmen Ejogo. Oyelowo was brilliant and has done more than justice to please Dr. King himself.

 “I’d rather people be upset and hate me than bleeding or dead.”

“Selma” is the movie to watch. The story documents the turning point in the Civil Rights Movement, glorifies Black power and supremacy, and the talent behind a female director. Defying Hollywood norms, this feature was spectacular and is a visual representation of what history books lack. It was raw, heartbreaking, authentic and artistic and should be watched by everyone.

Rating: 9.5/10

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About Samah Ali

Samah Ali

With a deep admiration for film, television, and music, Samah spends most of her free time expressing and sharing her love for the arts. Studying Creative Writing at Western University, she enjoys writing about film & music and shapes her passions with the latest movie or album available.

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