Monthly Archives: February 2015
In 1963 Black activist Martin Luther King delivered one of the world’s most famous speeches as he addressed the audience at the March on Washington. The following year he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions towards combating racial inequality through nonviolence. It was also in this year that he helped to organise the infamous Selma to Montgomery marches, a message to the country, to the world even, that Black people should be allowed the right to vote in American. It is this turbulent time during King’s life which has been depicted in this movie directed by Ava DuVernay.
1960’s America was a totally different world to the one we all live in today. Black Americans were beaten, abused and bullied purely for the colour of their skin. One man decided to fight the law, to confront the powers that be and fight for the right that his people are treated the same as any other American.
Despite the “I Had a Dream” speech being one of Martin Luther King’s most memorable moments, this movie is a celebration of his life and for everything he worked for. The depiction of brutality experienced by his brothers and sisters were one of pure devastation and the fact that they were true events only add to the power behind the story and the sadness that went along with it. There is also the feeling of admiration and pride for a man who fought all the way, despite having his own personal battles to contend with.
British actor David Oyelowo was handed the task of portraying one of America’s most iconic Black people and the task to fulfill the ambition, determination and purpose of King’s character was a hard one to perform. But, for the little known London born actor, it is possibly the performance of his career and one that will no doubt propel him to the cataclysmic heights of one of Hollywood’s true greats. His calm demeanor, movements and voice are captured to perfection in a truly spell binding performance that would make the man himself proud.
Oyelowo had extremely experienced support with bold and meaningful performances from Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon B. Johnson, Giovanni Ribisi as Lee White, Tim Roth as Governor George Wallace, Common as James Bevel, Stephan James as John Lewis, Oprah Winfrey in a small, but perfected role as Annie Lee Cooper, but credit must also go to Carmen Ejogo who played the tumultuous role as Martin Luther King’s wife, Coretta.
DuVernay’s vision of Martin Luther King’s famous march is brutal in aggression, but also brutally honest in the depiction. The viewing can be uncomfortable at times in terms of the graphic nature of the story, but the cinematography has been expertly executed with moodful settings, ambient lighting and interspersed with actual footage allowing us the memory of the truth behind the story.
Writer Paul Webb has deployed a script heavily laden with dialogue and political history, but his intelligence of the story and segregation of scenes are beautifully portrayed upon a tainted backdrop.
Selma is up for two awards at this year’s Oscars for Best Picture and Original Song, but surprisingly no nomination for David Oyelowo for Best Actor. I know the competition is strong this year, but his performance was worthy of nomination.