Tom Basham

Selma

In This Just OUT on January 11, 2015 at 9:37 pm

selma-movie-posterI thought about “Selma” when I passed the sign on I-95 last week in North Carolina. Turns out I don’t know much about the Civil Rights Movement, since the movie is about Selma, Alabama.

This movie begins in 1964 when Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo from “Interstellar”) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. So he was already a pretty big deal when he decided to go to Selma. As a national leader in the quest for social justice, he knew he must respond to the tragedies and the mistreatment of his people. His wife, Coretta (Carmen Ejogo from “Alex Cross”), fears for his life, but she knows he must go.

President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson from “The Grand Budapest Hotel”) is basking in the glow of passing Civil Rights legislation and wants King to just be happy with that for now and not make any waves. Johnson is aware of how the southern states systematically keep blacks out of the voting process but is unwilling to spend any more political capital. As long as this issue stays off Facebook, I mean, the nightly news (ask your grandfather what this is), he is not going to do much.

This is just a small snapshot of King’s legacy with an inside peek at some of his personal struggles. He is not portrayed as a perfect man, just a man with a vision of how things should be; a man who stood in defiance of an imperfect system. We see the weight of leadership on the shoulders of this humble man. He led with the rare combination of quiet dignity and a thundering voice, speaking words that would change minds and make history.

Novice Director Ava DuVernay (“Middle of Nowhere”) does an amazing job taking us to this place and time without heavy-handed exploitation. At the same time, she brought out humility in King and showed how he led such a fragile coalition to the courthouse steps on the way to the promised land. I know that Oprah Winfrey did a lot to get this movie made, but she took me out of it, as every time I saw her on screen I would think, “There’s Oprah.”

I am not ashamed to admit I did not know where Selma was or to admit how well this movie tells a terrific and tragic story. For that reason, I must give this movie 4 ½ stars out of 5. Take a page from this movie and make waves with words as your weapon.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:
 https://bashmovies.wordpress.com

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