Virtual SELMA

Ava DuVernay / Cert 12A / 128 mins / UK, USA, France (2014)

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"Oyelowo dominates the screen with something Shakespearian... It's a stirring and thrilling film." ★★★★★ Guardian

DuVernay's film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965 when King (an excellent David Oyelowo) led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. In the early '60s the Southern states  obstructed Black people from registering to vote, and with jury service only open to registered voters, the result was a de facto white supremacist regime. The decision to march was taken to force confrontation, and so it did.  The moment of history culminated in President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. 

"What happens when a man stands up and says enough is enough?" asks King.  The answer presented here is timely and compelling.  Oyelowo inhabits the role with authority and passion, and those speeches - those speeches! - are the greatest gift scriptwriter Paul Webb could have had.  The film is all the better because it presents the man as well as the myth - behind the moral courage of the leader we see the crisis in the King's marriage due to his infidelities - and DeVernay's direction keeps the scenes tight and tense throughout.  Even though we know the outcome, this is a heart-in-mouth piece of story telling.  It is only surprising that it took so long for it be made as a film.  Bravo to all concerned!

Click here to watch Selma in full, for free

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