Selma (2015) [Review]

selma movie poster

African-American Civil Rights is absolutely fascinating to me. Full marks on the modules at school, and onto my History degree at University where I did everything I could to make sure I absorbed as much information as possible around this movement, pre-dating the American Civil War until the present day. The sheer quantity of questions that arise when looking at this subject matter is immeasurable, and at times impossible to understand quite why aspects of this exist in the first place. Among all of that, one of the most incredible events I studied was the march from Selma to Montgomery led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and Ava DuVemay attempts to retell this story.

Selma is not a documentary, but it is scarily truthful. This well-executed drama depicts the build-up to the march from Selma to establish equal voting rights for African-Americans, then the march itself, and the outcomes. King led his followers, amalgamated of a variety of organisations all with the same aim, directly into the face of violence against the United States government and the oppressive police force. Having already seen the original footage of the events, those images still could not prepare me for the horrifying dramatization that takes place, leaving me with chills and in a state of anger. Even though we know the outcome, it doesn’t make this historical event any less disturbing.

Carried by an award-worthy performance from David Oyelowo, a passionate script and excellent direction, this is a cinematic story-telling at its absolute finest. Duvemay displays the events as they happened, spliced together with archival footage to reinforce the validity of her vision, enabling audiences on a global scale to truly understand the abhorrent treatment of African-Americans in US history. It is an incredibly powerful story, one that truly captures the essence of the campaign, and serves as an important yet painful reminder as to the lack of progress achieved in many areas for African-American Civil Rights in America.

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