Directed by Ava DuVernay, staring David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson and Tim Roth. Selma dipics the events of the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 in order to attain the right for the African American Vote.
Many discussions and debates have arisen around this film, some arguing that Selma should both have received more attention at the Oscars and been more widespread in release. While others would argue that it was riding on the success of 12 years a slave in order to attain more focus on African American actors and simply winning the best original song was not enough.
I would suggest that, yes, the Oscars were a very white affair with both lead actor and actress category largely occupied by white people and would agree that names such as David Oyelowo and Ava DuVernay should have been a more common sight during the award season. However my real issue is not with the actors of film, indeed there are very many well know names whom I was surprised to see, but with the film itself as Selma is a good film; but not a fantastic film and certainly not enough to reach the height of Oscar material.
The film very much centers on the marches that happened in Selma, but because this is the centre of attention other materials feel hardly used and, when touched on, they are rushed. Here are two examples, firstly Martin Luther King had many affairs this is historically accepted, and yet the film barely touches on it resulting in his wife portrayed in the role of the angry, bitter woman questioning King about his mistresses. In reality her anger, if it was present, I feel as a person she must have been more than just bitter, angry woman raising children. The second example is of the US President, Lyndon Johnson. Heated conversations run throughout the film in the relationship between King and the President, who was known for racist leanings in the beginning of his time in office, and indeed for taking a wider more enlightened view as time progressed. But the film, instead of gradually showing his inclination for granting the vote, is rushed into a character change that disrupts the tempo of the film.
David Oyelowo is powerful and diverse as King, during his speeches he commands the room and he embodies Martin Luther King to the extent that I questioned, on his last speech, whether it was David or they had used archive footage of Martin Luther King’s voice. In fact throughout you can almost see the cogs turning in his head as he tries to strategise the best move for his immediate group of people following him as well as the black community at large; his performance was outstanding.
The issue I have with the film is that I agree this was a pivotal point in history, however I do not think the focus should have been on the marches themselves. At the time I am writing this a shooting has occurred in a Church in Texas killing 12 people. In the first section of Selma, a church bomb goes off killing a groups of children. Shooting in the news towards black people has become regretfully a sad common thread of news that I do not think we need to be exposed to any further by showing how the people were beaten during the marches. This is not to undermine the actions and deaths that have occurred over the years illustrating the face of racism and discrimination, nor should we hide these events, but we must show them in a more intelligent manner. The debates held within Selma are far more fascinating then the marches themselves and some really poignant statements are made.
*** While visually stunning with excellent use of music, it feels to rushed and I feel instead of focusing on the violence that is around us in the papers and for some in the their own lives particularly on this subject, Selma needed to be more vocal and showcase more of the debates which we witness briefly before being thrown back into talk of the march as important as they were.
RECOMMENDATION- It is an interesting film to watch, but it is not the best film of the year and it is not in my top group of films from last year, but is worth seeing at least once.