This gripping, inspiring and sometimes terrifying drama (astonishingly, the first film to focus on Martin Luther King made for the big screen) is a vivid retelling of the months leading up to the historic 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, that would secure voting rights for African Americans. Director Ava DuVurnay blows the dust off history to find its beating heart: at its core is Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo), who rescues the flesh-and-blood man from the myth.
Selma isn’t a biopic – it’s a celebration of community action – and what emerges in its corridor of back rooms is Dr. King as a savvy strategist, a shrewd operator, and a man’s man with a rocky home life. He travels a hectic circuit from pulpit to jail cell to the White House and back, juggling the attentions of President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson), racist Alabama governor George Wallace (Tim Roth) and J. Edgar Hoover (Dylan Baker), the FBI’s director who views him as a “political and moral degenerate”. Even if you may or may not know how Dr. King’s campaign ends, Selma sings with suspense and surprise – and its message has lost none of its heroic, tragic relevance.
In 2015, the 50th anniversary of this pivotal moment in the civil rights movement, it is hard to imagine a timelier reminder of both the progress that has been made and the promises that have been unkept. How much has Dr. King achieved, and how much have we advanced? Well, that’s all up for discussion – see the ways you can share your thoughts below – for now we’ll leave you with the words of a critic who said: “As cinema, Selma is commendable; as cultural barometer, it’s beyond reproach.”
Conversations About Cinema: Impact of Conflict
Impact of Conflict is a new strand where we will explore the effects of war and conflict through screenings, events and publishing - it is all about the opportunity for you to share your responses. You can join the discussion by doing any of the following:
- You can post your thoughts on our noticeboard or tweet using #convocinema or @wshed.