Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Selma is a powerful and important film

Movie theaters every year get hit with noteworthy films around this time of year, known to the film industry as “Oscar season.” Plenty of films are worth your time, but there is one that flat-out demands it.

That film is “Selma,” the true story of the civil rights march lead by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the afternoon of March 7, 1965, in the state of Alabama.

Director Ava DuVerney handles this story with such care, putting all of the film’s focus on the story of the 50-mile march to Montgomery and the drawn-up collaboration between Dr. King and President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Instead of making a biopic about the early days of Dr. King’s upbringing, DuVerney narrows the scope and focuses on the important days of what he fought so hard for.

From the first minute until the very last, audiences are given a clear picture as to what the unsettling political reality was in the 1960s.

With President Johnson and Alabama state governor George Wallace focusing on their own agenda and not willing to lend a helping hand, Dr. King takes matters into his own hands by forming a group from around the country in rallying with him to make sure that voting rights are given to all people of color.

Much of the film’s credit must be given to the large list of actors involved — in particular, David Oyelowo, who disappears into the soul of Dr. King so much so that I feel hesitant to call it a “role.”

Dr. King and his speeches are alive on screen in a way that kept me invested even long after the lights came up. While Dr. King appears confident, he has moments of self-doubt in regards to the success of his plans and the safety of his family, which DuVerney and Oyelowo do not shy away from. The kneeling scene on the bridge is a powerful God moment that reveals Dr. King’s trust in God’s plan.

Other members of the cast include Tom Wilkinson as President Johnson, Tim Roth as George Wallace and Carmen Ejogo as Dr. King’s wife (Coretta Scott King), all who give wonderful performances and who round out this ensemble cast of underrated performers.

Even in its smaller moments, constant cruelty is shown even more when the defining march begins. Annie Lee Cooper (played by Oprah Winfrey) is shown at the beginning of the film being denied the right to vote for a fifth time, all because she couldn’t name the 67 county judges in Alabama.

The injustice does not stop there. An unarmed man, Jimmie Lee Jackson, is fatally shot in a town restaurant by a state trooper, which turns into one of the most emotional moments in the entire film.

Nobody wants to be preached at, which is an easy route this story could have taken. Instead, “Selma” stirs up emotions in an organic way. It is impossible to see this film and not think about injustice among people and how recent tragic events are related to civil rights.

But even in that, it never comes off as a sermon pointing you in that direction. Instead, it is a reminder of how powerful one man’s dream can be and how far away our nation is to seeing it through.

I could go on and on and list all of the reasons you should see this movie. The acting is great, the writing is rousing and the directing is clear, but ultimately it’s about the message — a message about what real struggle is like and how people can come together to change the world.

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