Selma (M)

In a word: Electrifying

David Oyelowo stars as Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, in Selma.

"Selma depicts faith in action; standing up as Christians are called to stand on behalf for those who are oppressed – one of the most moving scenes is when clergy from across the US pour into Selma to stand in solidarity with the civil rights marchers at risk to their own lives (indeed, one of them did lose his life as a result of violence surrounding the march)."

A key episode in the struggle for civil rights in the United States, Selma tells an episode in the life of movement spearhead Martin Luther King, Jr, involving a series of protests and marches which took place in and from the town of Selma in Alabama (culminating in a 50 mile March to the state capital of Montgomery) in a bid to shatter the administrative barriers preventing black voters – who had won the right to vote the previous year – from actually doing so.

King was already famous by the time of the Selma marches in 1965 – the film opens with him receiving the Nobel Peace Prize – which came two years after he had delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, in August, 1963 (President Kennedy had been assassinated that November).


Directed by director Ava DuVernay, Selma deftly depicts the events of '65 through the frame of King’s life and, as well as the hard-fought victories, doesn’t hold back on showing the failings, setbacks, doubts and disappointments of all those involved in the movement, least of all those of King. But nor does it hold back on how his Christian faith drove him in his conviction that non-violent protest would eventually win the day.


David Oyelowo’s performance as King is masterful while other stand-outs include Tom Wilkinson as the equivocating President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Tim Roth as Governor George Wallace (a man who LBJ warns will be seen on the “wrong side” of history) and Carmen Ejogo as King’s long-suffering wife Coretta Scott King.

There’s plenty of other stellar acting talent in the movie - including Oprah Winfrey as Annie Lee Cooper, the woman who helped spark the confrontation with authorities in Selma when she made repeated attempts to enroll to vote (Winfrey is also credited as a producer) - although the limited roles of Cuba Gooding, Jr, and Giovanni Ribisi mean we don’t see their full acting range.


Selma depicts faith in action; standing up as Christians are called to stand on behalf for those who are oppressed – one of the most moving scenes is when clergy from across the US pour into Selma to stand in solidarity with the civil rights marchers at risk to their own lives (indeed, one of them did lose his life as a result of violence surrounding the march).

Be prepared - there's some gut-wrenching scenes as the film spares nothing in depicting what the movement was up against, accurately capturing the pervasive sense of threat which hung over all those involved (and which in so many ways, still manifests itself over the lives of people today).


Though its focus is only on a brief moment in the long history of the civil rights movement, the film tells a much bigger story about how the oppressed can overcome their oppressors without resorting to the violence that frustration so often leads to. As the film depicts it, there is much to be learned from the way King conducted himself as the head of the civil rights movement for the Christian activists of today as we continue to struggle against the injustices that so many still face. A movie sure to get your blood pumping.

~ www.selmamovie.com