Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Selma (2014)


Martin Luther King Jr.: [somberly yet passionately speaking to church congregation at a funeral] Who murdered Jimmie Lee Jackson? Every white lawman who abuses the law to terrorize. Every white politician who feeds on prejudice and hatred. Every white preacher who preaches the bible and stays silent before his white congregation. Who murdered Jimmie Lee Jackson? Every Negro man and woman who stands by without joining this fight as their brothers and sisters are brutalized, humiliated, and ripped from this Earth.

Ava DuVernay is a director who dared to speak about the historical march of Martin Luther King Jr. on Selma, Alabama in the early 1960s. Despite the Academy's omission of nominating DuVernay for Best Director, this film resonates the transcendent message of what Martin Luther King Jr. was trying to achieve so many decades before.

'Selma' is the unforgettable true story chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. 

A bold directorial move on behalf of DuVernay and an even bolder subject to speak about. According to many public information online, despite the strenuous and tumultuous journey this film had had so far, after 10 years in development, DuVernay not only managed to take the reigns and achieve something worthwhile, but she re-wrote almost the entirety of the script, and edited out all the original speeches that were going to be used when this film was first developing. This however, and the numerous obstacles that the production faced along the way in making this film, is one of the many reasons why in its entirety this film is lacking in some way; from execution to development, the film is found wanting throughout its 2-hour span. 

The remarkable role of Martin Luther King, Jr is portrayed by the evocative David Oyelowo, who not only extols in his portrayal of the historical heritage of this man, but dignifies him by his vigorousness and his humility in the way he approached the script. Now baring in mind, what a profound significance this role has on world history, is reason enough to make any actor be in awe in the portrayal of Dr. King, Jr. Oyelowo's monumental portrayal is one that focuses more on the abundance of raising awareness and feelings of justice and equality, rather than playing upon the physicality of the character. He manages to underlay such a capturing of the multifaceted personality that does engage with the audience enough to prove how current still the words of Martin Luther King, Jr are. 

Albeit the gravity of the message being promoted through the story line, the film is lacking in its ability to engage the audience from the get go. The trouble with this, is not in the lack of empathy on the events that unraveled in 1965. The main lacking problem with the film is the long stretchy moments of hopelessnes and victimization that could make the film a lot more pacy and intriguing. Given the thematology, race issues on film are always a sore subject and DuVernay, given the resources and the backing she had, she did justice in her approach to the historical material  that gives the film a significance upon the long line of film that deal with racial equality. 

The grasp of things is that after screening the film, it is only understandable why the Academy chose not to include DuVernay's valiant effort in directing this colossal film, and if we weight upon the film-making achievements on this year's Oscar race, it is only but fair that DuVernay was not nominated for 'Selma'. A worthy nod though came to this film through it's best original song, with the film 'Glory' by John Legend and Common. The track is truly glorious!


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