In cinemas now is a biopic of an important time in American history, specifically in the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and the town in which the film is named after.
Selma is an origin story of the Selma to Montgomery marches that caused such controversy and made it acceptable for black people to vote. Selma stars David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr., Carmen Ejogo as his wife Coretta Scott King and is terrific.
This is the last of the Oscar Best Picture nominees to be released into the UK and it is Oscar fodder of the highest order. It’d be great if people not only gave all these black history films loads of Oscars but actually stopped being really racist. The film is incredible and shocked me more than an action film and chilled me more than a gothic horror. Everyone knows making a touching, eye opening film that has the stamp of ‘Based on a true story’ stuck on it just makes little gold men march in the direction of the director.
The film begins with Dr. King being awarded his Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 which is immediately followed by an incredible moment that rattled me for a good few minutes, that I’ll let you see for yourself. It was sometime before this that the law was changed so that Black people were allowed to vote, and were encouraged with the false promise of a free mule and 40 acres of land as an apology for being kept as slaves for ages. This is captured in the historical madly racist D.W. Griffiths film ‘The Birth of a Nation’ which accidentally inspired the reinvention of the KKK. Whoops.
There were, at this time however, no laws in place to make it that they were allowed to do this without getting beaten to the ground or denied through some loophole. It was impossible for black people to vote despite it being legal. No mule, no forty acres and now no voting as black people were treated as a lesser race. It’s hard to believe now in this day and age of freedom, love, constant peace and problem free life that racism and closed minded judgmental stupidity like this was ever an issue.
So Dr. King tried to talk President Lyndon B. Johnson into enforcing the law that black people were allowed to vote unencumbered. Eventually these events lead to a few arrests and marches, some involve the blatant murder of black people for which no punishment was ever handed out. Ultimately the march to Montgomery drew a lot of attention from he media and put pressure on the government as planned but a lot of backlash in the form of random beatings in the street of both black and white people.
Finally, Selma is a biopic and leads towards a speech on the steps of the State Capitol building, it’s always hard to say why a film is good without sounding repetitive. The portrayals by David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo are flawless and at the time I remember questioning why they had been over looked for the Oscars. Selma was a strong heartfelt film and a golden-arrow straight to your disgust glands in a brilliant way.