The film opens with Martin Luther King, Jr. (played to perfection by David Oyelowo) practicing his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. In contrast we see folks leaving a church, dressed up little girls on a staircase, when a bomb blast hits. This sums up 1964 and 1965 – a time of struggle and change in the Civil Rights Movement. The movie Selma looks at a small snipped of history – the peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery – the background, the discussions, the behind the scenes negotiations with President Lyndon Johnson (Tom Wilkinson), the hatred and the vitriol in the South, and the determination of African Americans to be able to vote without struggle.
This is not a documentary and there have been arguments over some aspects of the film’s viewpoint of the White House actions. However, when it comes down to the people – to a woman trying to register to vote and being denied because she can’t name every county judge in Alabama - Selma is a powerful movie with an excellent story to tell. The emphasis was on peaceful protest, and ultimately it did help the cause when a broader spectrum of the populace joined the cause. Priests and other clergy joined arms with Dr. Martin Luther King to preach a message of peace and to walk with him in Alabama.
Excellent filmmaking and a formidable story to tell earned Selma an Oscar nomination. So many good movies this year, I don’t think it will win but it’s worth viewing. David Oyelowo embodies the spirit of Dr. King. The Oscar nominated song “Glory” sung by John Legend soars over the end credits. You’ll march out of the theater contemplating history and a man.