On Tuesday, I had the privilege of attending an advance screening of the movie Selma, which is to be released everywhere today. A powerful and riveting film, Selma chronicles the three month period in 1965 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo) led a ground breaking and dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights. The historical march from Selma, Alabama to the capital in Montgomery put the Civil Rights Movement front and center, which led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
With dynamic performances, stellar directing and an amazing script, this film captures a moment in history that hasn’t been highlighted to this magnitude before now. While Dr. King remains at the center of the plot, the movie does a fantastic job of displaying the story of a movement and plight that goes far beyond him. We catch glimpses into the lives of those surrounding Dr. King, who also sacrificed and placed their lives on the line in the pursuit of equality. We witness their fears, struggles and courage in the emotional and powerful delivery of their sub-plots. And we are reminded of the bravery and heroism these individuals displayed in the wake of such blatant violence being rained down upon them.
It’s the insight into their struggles and lives that allows this film to develop a more dynamic view of Martin Luther King. For the first time, we are allowed to see behind the veil of greatness into his insecurities, failings and personal struggles, which are brilliantly combined with his grand oratory and strategical abilities.
David Oyelowo magnificently embodies Dr. King in a vibrant and humanizing portrayal of this great leader. With such an amazing supportive cast, which included Tim Roth, Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo, Nigel Thatch and Oprah Winfrey, and strong emotion-inducing scenes, this thought-provoking film reflects perfectly on our society in such a timeless manner. With civil unrest in areas such as Ferguson, couples fighting for their right to be married, and the attempts to change the Voting Rights Act in various states, it’s obvious that we are still struggling to reach a point of equality. But, I’m sure we will all agree that Selma is one of the most powerful films of the year.
Will you be watching Selma this weekend?