Movie Review: Selma
by Gloria Han
Class of 2016
A lot of buzz has been created with the release of Selma, which premiered nationally on January 9. The film is currently being nominated for two Academy Awards, Best Original Song, and Best Picture. Many audiences were shocked that the film was not nominated for more awards. Selma revolves around Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight for equal voting rights in his marches to Montgomery from Selma, Alabama, in the year 1965. The beginning scene starts off with Martin Luther King Jr.’s acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and the film ends with the activists’ final march to Montgomery, after President Johnson’s declaration to Congress for the elimination of voting restrictions for the black community. In between, the audience is treated to the behind-the-scenes work of the marches and the heart-wrenching struggle of an oppressed people for inherent American rights.
The audience is lured into Selma right away from the beginning with a powerful scene: After Martin Luther King receives his Nobel Peace Prize, the scene moves to four young girls walking and conversing down the stairs in their Sunday clothing. Suddenly, the building explodes, and only the ashy remnants indicate that these four girls ever existed. This display of tragedy, innocence, and injustice sets up and introduces the film in a very dramatic and effective manner.
The performances are also top-notch and incredible. David Oyelowo does Martin Luther King Jr., a symbol of America’s progress and struggles, absolute justice. In every speech throughout the film, Oyelowo is passionate and reflective of the ideals that King sought for. Even his voice is similar, powerful and gripping, like Dr. King himself. Overall, Selma boasts of an impeccable cast: Tom Wilkinson (In the Bedroom, Michael Clayton), Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs, Rob Roy), Common (Just Wright, Now You See Me), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Castle), Carmen Ejogo (Sparkle, The Purge: Anarchy), Lorraine Toussaint (Middle of Nowhere, Forever), Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire), and many more talented actors/actresses, and a supporting role by Oprah Winfrey herself.
The progression of Selma is told in a very documentary-like style. Each scene is labelled with the time, event, and date, which not only informs the audience but adds credibility to the film. One feels when watching that they are seeing the events for what they are, and not just an exaggerated oversimplification or understatement. Therefore, one should not expect the film to be exaggerated for the sake of entertainment and enjoyment. The film is moving and inspiring, but rather serves as a reminder than a piece of diversion. Audiences are meant to learn from this film, and remind themselves how although America has made much progress today, in terms of equality and its politics, there is still much more to be made to this day.
Rating: 5/5 Wamps