A New York gal living in Sydney. An ICU nurse by profession and urban hippie. A pescatarian, runner/yoga lover, scuba diver & green-living enthusiast. Admits to being a coffee snob & is owned by a sweet French Bulldog.
Selma is a movie based on Dr. Martin Luther King Junior's historic struggle to secure voting rights for African Americans. It revolves around the famous 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The film is produced by Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt's Plan B Productions, and is directed by Ava DuVernay.
Selma starts out with an explosive and shocking first few opening scenes. I was not expecting to see little African American girls walking down a set of stairs happily chatting when suddenly a bomb explodes and in slow motion the children are tossed about; audience members and myself screamed out in disbelief.
Oprah Winfrey has a surprisingly minor role as the character Annie Cooper. Ms Cooper was denied the right to register to vote because she cold not name all 67 Alabama circuit court judges when asked. African Americans at the time were already allowed to legally vote, however Southern American States in particular made it difficult for them to actually register. The voting registrars would ask them ridiculously hard questions that they would never ask white people, in order to deny them access to the vote.
In the movie, Dr King meets with President Lyndon B. Johnson several times to discuss the matter of allowing blacks to vote unencumbered. King's plan to raise white conciousness through non-violence was his 'negotiate, demonstrate and resist' tactic. This tactful method of his was an annoyance to the government. Dr. King and his associates would demonstrate diplomatically and peacefully, while white citizens, the police and government officials would react violently, thus embarrassing both state and federal politicians.
The movie shows Dr. King at his raw self. In a very interesting spin on things, the audience sees a side of King as not the Nobel prize winner and orator of his famous 'I Have A Dream' speech, but as a flawed man. The film goes into the truth of his marriage to his wife Coretta, in regards to both their extra-marital affairs. In an attempt to keep an eye on King and scare him, their family home was bugged. A tape recording of Coretta with another man was obtained during a dalliance on her part. J. Edgar Hoover refers to Dr. King as a 'degenerate' wishing to expose this side to the public and hit him where it hurts.
The title role of Dr. King is played by British actor David Oyelowo (Interstellar), who packed on the pounds and immersed himself in learning to speak with Dr. King's elocution. An interesting fact of Selma is that most of the key actors in this film are British, something this American audience-goer found odd and to be honest, somewhat disappointed by the fake Southern American accents. President Johnson is played by English actor Tom Wilkinson. The Alabama governor George Wallace, by British Academy Award nominee Tim Roth. Even Carmen Ejogo who plays Corettta King, was born and raised in London. Ejogo had also previously played Mrs King in the 2001 HBO movie 'Boycott.'
The Selma march was attempted three times before it was successful. The first march was horrific; marchers that included black women and children were attacked and beaten by state troopers. 70 million American television viewers watched this happen live on March 2nd 1965 and were outraged.
Thousands of people from all walks of life came down to Selma to support and join the march. Black and whites together across different religions joined forces to commence the second march attempt from the infamous Edmund Pettis Bridge. A white Reverand who travelled down from Boston to join the effort, was beaten to death by local men for marching and being a 'negro supporter.'
Dr. King and his supporters subsequently went to court and were granted approval to march from Selma to Montgomery. President Johnson met with George Wallace, the pro-segregation governor of Alabama to discuss allowing blacks to vote in that state without issues. Wallace was not willing to support this despite it already being the law. President Johnson in the end granted black citizens the right to vote without restrictions.
Selma as a movie kept this viewer interested. Despite the movie being a factual story in which I already knew the ending, for some reason I was expecting a more dramatic or sensationalised Hollywood ending. It has garnered four Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture in a Drama, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Original Song.
The Selma March will be celebrating its 50th anniversary at the time of its movie release in cinemas February 12th.