Selma

January 11, 2015 at 11:01 pm | Posted in 2014 | 1 Comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ½

Over the last couple of weeks, a controversy has been brewing over this film’s depiction of the relationship between MLK & LBJ (because there is apparently nothing else going on in the world that might want to occupy our attention). Was President Johnson as obstructionist toward King’s plans as the film suggests or, as others have said, was he actually the mind behind the Selma march? I find this controversy curious. Surely people aren’t suggesting that “The Imitation Game” or “Unbroken” are 100% accurate and yet nobody seems worked up into the same level of ire. In truth, I do not know nor do I care how accurately this film portrays Johnson’s role; it isn’t a film about Johnson. This is a film about the courage it took for a small group of people to stand up against immense odds. To that end, it succeeds beautifully. Though, it follows a standard Hollywood story arc, “Selma” never failed to engage. The core reason for this engagement was the British actor who played King himself, David Oyelowo, who is about to break wide open. He captured King’s accent and cadence perfectly, delivering both his dramatic speeches and his quiet moments. This was a powerful, grounded performance; I felt King’s struggle, his fear, his hope and his courage in that performance. This was a Hollywood film and deeply sentimental but, sometimes, sentimentality works. This story is so important and many people paid so dearly for it that I don’t mind a little sweeping music and well planned closeups. Given everything happening in this country today, it’s important to remember how far they traveled on the march to Montgomery and how far there is left to go.

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