Selma: Are Human Rights A Luxury?

Summary: Selma is the true story of the three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. headed a perilous campaign to obtain equal voting rights for the African-American in the face of violent adversity. The colossal march from Selma to Montgomery concluded in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act in 1965. This was one of the most significant wins for the Civil Rights Movement. Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” tells the story of how the Baptist minister, visionary and civil rights leader Dr. King implemented the winds of change of segregation forever.

Slavery was outlawed in the USA in 1865 when Lincoln outlawed it with the Thirteenth Amendment. The American Civil War was the fight between the north and the south of the United States, where Lincoln had to choose whether to end slavery or end the war. By ending slavery, he ended the war. Many wanted to end the war but carry on making fat cheques off slavery. Many were outraged because of the amount of money that was going down the tubes. Even one hundred years on, in 1965 attitudes still had not changed. Segregation was an abstract commodity that had taken deep root in the fabrics of southern American society. People had grown to accept this. When King started this movement off the back of the Rosa Parkes’ bus boycott many were outraged. Disrupt the established order and people get annoyed. A lot of white people in 1960s America had the same attitudes as they did during the slavery days in centuries past.

Film Review Selma

David Oyelowo As Martin Luther King
(Selma, Paramount Pictures)

From the start, Selma is powerful and engaging. Selma is not a film that was made to score political points but it is a movie that tells the truth. It is cynical but it shows just how violent White America truly was to Black America. The movie is very brutal and direct to the point but it is not bloody in any form. There are cops killing defenceless black people in the streets with no signs of remorse…heartbreaking stuff. David Oyelowo’s performance as Dr King is legendary. He utters the speeches with conviction, clarity and great projection of voice. His speeches are otherworldly. I have no words that are worthy of describing Oyelowo’s performance as King.

As a viewer, I despised LBJ until the end. He was passing off something as serious as Civil Rights as a minor issue. It made my blood boil. It took many murders for the president to take action. Lyndon B Johnson plays the main antagonist in this movie. He is the constant thorn in the side of the movement. For much of the movie he does not seem to be taking the black vote seriously. Dr King consistently tells him to pursue the vote but on one occasion he says

Youve got one big issue, I’ve got one hundred and one”

President LBJ

Tim Roth is one of my favorite actors. Any project he touches is a marvel. He plays George Wallace, a white racist and Governor of Alabama. His role was short and swift. He makes a brutal speech condemning Martin Luther King and the movement. He was a white supremacist and plays this role with surety and makes me want to hate him. Any Roth role is a marvel, especially in his Quentin Tarantino projects. Well, protesters weren’t disturbing the peace at all. The cops were doing that by taking to the streets with their guns and tear gas. This movie is soul-destroying in the sense that it is a deeply emotional film.


“We will not tolerate agitators attempting to orchestrate a disturbance in our state.” – Wallace (Roth)
(Selma, Paramount Pictures)

It is very controversial because it was genuine and talks about issues that nobody wants to hear. Even fifty years on, people find subjects like the Civil Rights Movement very awkward to talk about. How could man be so cruel? Selma portrays 1960s white Americans as violent, gun-ho and never taking accountability for their action thus blaming African-Americans for disrupting the established order.Selma does a great job of recreating vital historical events like Bloody Sunday where Alabama state troops and local police attacked peaceful marchers. Loretta King said “The whole nation was sickened by the pictures of that wild melee”. There was tear gas, batons, horsemen slashing with whips. The whips could be deemed as an intelligent link to the slave trade, a great use of symbolism if there ever was.


Police brutality at its worst
(Selma, Paramount Pictures)

Oprah Winfrey made a cameo too as she loves being in films promoting black rights like The Color Purple, The Butler and now Selma. I am sure she will do more before she is done.I believe Selma was the best movie of 2014. David Oyelowo deserved an Oscar nomination and I believe he was granted an injustice there.


David Oyelowo recruiting for the civil marches of Selma
(Selma, Paramount Pictures)

In conclusion, Oyelowo was formidable and I was engaged for the full length of the film. He played the serious yet also the humorous side of Martin like when he says that white boy can hit” after he was punched by a racist local. Every speech uttered by King in this film was said with such confidence, charisma and awesomeness.

We must march! We must stand up!…“It is unacceptable that they use their power and keep us voiceless”.

I would like to see David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King in a full one hundred and eighty minute biopic. The movie was very well done. Cinematography and visual effects (tear gas and whatnot). This movie like The Theory Of Everything & The Imitation Game relied more on acting prowess rather than special effects. It had a storyline which can’t be said for many films which are predominantly filled with SFX and poor acting. I am not pointing any fingers…Michael Bay…Transformers.A fantastic film snubbed by corporate cowardice.

Brutal, harrowing and emotional, but one of the best films of the 2014; about an issue that is as relevant today as it was fifty years ago