Movie Review: Selma

January 2015

Selma (2014)

Genre: Biography, Drama, History

Starring: David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Oprah Winfrey

Budget: 20 million

Box Office: 52 million domestic and 66.7 million worldwide.

Watched  Selma tonight and I was astounded.  Selma was at times heart breaking and brutal film to watch, but also an inspiring tale of endurance and hope. It enlightened me further about the great man who was, Martin Luther King Jr.

I remember the first time I heard a Martin Luther King Jr. speech. I was raised to treat all people equally, but even at that age I noticed how people treated others differently. Something about it always bothered me to my core.  When I first heard Martin Luther King Jr. speak. Sharing his message of love, equality, tolerance, and peace.  Even though I was not a young black man, his words still touched me deeply.  Because here was a man who believed in the ideas I had started to believe in, a man who acted on these ideas in a world where often words and actions become separated.  These ideas some twenty years later I still believe in; peace, love, respect, and equality.

What I didn’t like about the movie.

I have very little bad about this movie. The last twenty minutes dragged slightly, but I think that was more because of the excessive amount of trailers before the film.  After a couple of hours, I want to get up and move around. This movie is not for the faint of heart. There isn’t gore, but there is certainly violence and disturbing imagery. There is monstrous acts of racism and hate that sickened me.  I can’t wrap my head around the idea of being able to look at people of any group as anything less than people. Some humans clearly can and did. (Too many still do.)  They did alter Lyndon B. Johnson a bit to appear more argumentative which hurts the film in the manner of accuracy.

What I liked about this film.

Often with historical films, they change key situations and events to make the story more interesting for film sake. This film took a couple of liberties, but  the vast majority (85-90%) was on par with actual events and the timeline in Selma. The movie captured my emotions with every scene. The terrible moments caused me grief and anger, while the good moments were heartwarming and inspiring,  The film made me care about the key characters in this movie. I ached with them, I laughed with him, I wished the best for them, I cried with them. It was a very moving film .

I love that this movie didn’t only focus on Martin Luther King Jr, but also showed the issues that President Lyndon B. Johnson had to deal with. He was coming from a different angle from that of King.   I understand why some would be upset with his portrayal, but I felt the film showed both his worst and his best sides.  The movie  didn’t hold back on the conflict of interests between King and Malcolm X either. Two mighty figures who came from opposing sides. It also dove into King’s personal life and the troubles he had at home and his moments of doubt and conflict with various other people.

This film didn’t go out to paint Martin Luther King Jr. as this god like figure, but rather as a great man with the courage and determination to stand up for what he felt was right.  He had his doubts, he had his flaws, but the man was able stand firm for the principles of nonviolence, love, and equality.

The cast in this movie was exceptional. I think every person nailed their role.  To name a few: Tim Roth as Governor George Wallace, Stephan James as John Lewis, Common as James Bevel, Tom Wilkinson as Lyndon B. Johnson and Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King. The standout was easily David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr. (Get this man into more movies because he was incredible.)

The music was beautiful, the history mostly accurate, the cast was great. In every way, this movie was a wonderfully crafted piece of art. It brings Martin Luther King Jr. into the mindset of a whole new generation of Americans. A generation that may know of the man and his accomplishments, but the the importance of the events and people have faded a bit into the history books.

This movie ensures that this particular part of history will not be forgotten. That the ideas that these men and women fought and sometimes died for was something of great value. Something worth defending and fighting for even today.

I strongly recommend this movie to anyone with an appreciation for good acting, American history, and the idea that all people are created equal.  By the end, when I heard that booming voice or Dr. King, I shed a few tears. It took me back to the first time I heard King’s message of love and equality.  It warmed my soul and inspired me to the point I didn’t even feel the cold when getting to my car later that evening.

I initially put this movie as a 2014 release as it premiered that year, but I’m now considering it for 2015 since it was given a wide release this past Friday to the masses.  .

Rating-

Love It- I loved this movie. The acting, the music, writing, sets, and overall accuracy stands well above average.  It is a beautiful work about an important piece of history.

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About Andrew the Movie Guy 14

Andrew was born and raised in New England. Fell in love with movies at an early age thanks to Disney's Golden Age in the 1990's. Developed a respect for older films thanks to his grandfather. Now has viewed well over a 1,000 films from the very first films all the way to the present day. Andrew's favorite movies are numerous, but he counts The Princess Bride, Jaws, Arsenic and Old Lace, 12 Angry Men, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Lion King among his regular top five of all time.
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