SELMA comes to the silver screen based on Dr Martin Luther King’s involvements with the Selma to Montgomery Marches of 1965 and the repercussions of the police force. The film finds itself elegantly talking about how the civil rights movement organised their protests, focusing on the behind-the-scenes aspects of the protests. The film does move towards emphasising the brutality towards peaceful protests and ideals that the local African Americans wanted to convey as well, and it strikes that balance perfectly.
Director Ava DuVernay handles every scene with such care that every moment in this film carries significant weight and moves the film along at a brisk pace, especially as it comes in at just under two hours. And yet the film also calmly reminds you while this is a showcase of humungous change in society and its views, its also reflective of how far we still have to go in today’s current climate as well – a sobering reflection, indeed.
There’s nothing overly flashy about SELMA, and that might be its greatest strength. It is allowed to step back from spectacular flashes, focusing squarely on the deeply personal drama that is borne out of bigotry and racism. DuVernay’s shot selection is so well chosen that we zero in on one-on-one interactions. Her selections of Luther King Jnr’s shots are also done with clarity of thought, lining him up in front of thousands of people as a leader of peace and standing up for what is right and fair in the face of adversity.
This is an unbelievably powerful and affecting film that is anchored beautifully by an Oscar-worthy performance from David Oyelowo and the supporting cast of Tom Wilkinson, Wendell Pierce and a plethora of others builds. With Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture (Drama), Best Director, Best Actor in Motion Picture (Drama) and taking out the gong for Best Original Song, Motion Picture, and nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Song for the Academy Awards, it’s clear that SELMA is creating waves. There’s such a clear vision with this film that it’s absolutely deserving of the awards love.