Selma is the story of Martin Luther King Jr and his fight for equal voting rights for African Americans.
The film takes place in 1965 in Selma Alabama, just after Kings “I have a dream” speech. Where King and his group, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference incite a large scale march from Selma to Montgomery in order to get President Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the Voting rights Act, allowing for African Americans to have the same voting rights as white Americans.
It’s great to see that the film focused on one specific part of Kings life, so we get to unpack that and get the full story instead of trying to fit his whole life into one film which may have seemed crowded and long winded. This film doesn’t just purely focus on King and his group and what they were doing, although that is the main premise, but there is a really interesting relationship between Martin Luther king Jr and Lyndon B. Johnson, the American president at the time and they keep clashing over the priority of the voting rights act and their different agendas.
This film is incredibly well shot and directed. Despite this not being a particularly fast paced film it engages you and keeps you wanting to know what’s going to happen next, it makes you feel the gravity and weight of certain scenes without using over glorified violence. It did a great job of not focussing on how African Americans were being persecuted by white people during that time but instead focussed on how King went about using non-violent protesting and the chess game between him and Johnson to create change and equity.
This film did not set out to get sympathy for the way African Americans were treated, or to raise consciousness about the evilness of certain white people, but it was about the power of the human spirit and the progress that King and his supporters made in achieving equality for all men when all the odds were stacked against them. It was great to see that in this film they did make King out to be this perfect I have all the answers kind of messiah, instead they revealed how human and fallible he actually was, whether it was his infidelities or how at times he had doubts about the success of what he and his supporters were doing.
David Oyelowo does an amazing job of portraying the titular character, he brought across the humanity of King as well as the presence and attention he commanded, there is a scene at the end where just watching Oyelowo embody King gave me goosebumps, and it’s a true shame the he was overlooked for and Oscar nomination. The supporting cast did a great job too, with Tom Wilkinson playing Johnson and Tim Roth as Governor George Wallace.
Whether you knew a lot about Martin Luther King Jr before or if you knew nothing, Selma is a definite must-see!