NORTHSIDE FILMS| SELMA

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by Brett Hutton

 

The road to equality is paved with spilt blood and shattered bones, built on the foundations of hope and sacrifice. Social progress has always been slow and arduous, but also inevitable. As I currently live in a time where some people are oppressed and ostracised for their sexuality, Selma is a reminder that such prejudice is nothing new; but more importantly, that bigotry will always lose.

 

Selma follows Martin Luther King and his most trusted followers as they take their movement to the town of Selma, Alabama, one of the last states in America still clinging to old-world values under the veil of ‘Jim Crow’ laws. It focuses on King’s burden as the face of the movement, his neglect of his family to fight for what he believes, in his heart, to be right, and the famous march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama that made a nation finally wake up.

 

This film is intense, beginning with a Ku Klux Klan terrorist attack that kills a group of young girls in a church. The civil rights movement was dangerous and bloody, and this is reflected so powerfully in Selma that some may find it difficult to watch. Then again that’s the point. It should be hard to watch, it should be hard to stomach and it should most certainly make you angry. Not only is Selma an important reminder of our history, but also a reality check to the injustices still being committed today against people for purposes that are just as obscene and irrational.

 

Visually, the film doesn’t do much at the beginning. It’s not until the ball gets rolling in Selma that it breaks from its moorings and gets down and dirty amidst the horror and violence, watching as activists run for their lives in a cloud of tear gas, batons and whips breaking their backs and tearing their skin.

 

The dark side of humanity’s past is raw and is shown earnestly in the film. Its hideousness is palpable as it oozes on the screen, its fumes burning the nostrils of the conscience.”

 

David Oyelowo’s performance as Martin Luther King perfectly captures the passion, spirit and conviction of the activist, but reminds us that while he is legendary, King was still a man with flaws and filled with doubt. Any performance and any portrayal of King in any medium past and future will forever pale in comparison to the charisma, dedication and command that Oyelowo brought to the role.

 

Carmen Ejogo is strong yet vulnerable as King’s wife Coretta, Tom Wilkinson is conservative and frustrating as Lyndon Johnson and Tim Roth is perfectly vile as the antagonistic Alabama senator, George Wallace. Oyelowo’s performance behind the speeches King gives during the film is amplified brilliance thanks to director Ava DuVernay’s work on them. Because King’s speeches are copyrighted, she had to reword them from Paul Webb’s script and she does so with great attention to detail and phenomenal writing prowess.

 

The dark side of humanity’s past is raw and is shown earnestly in the film. Its hideousness is palpable as it oozes on the screen, its fumes burning the nostrils of the conscience. That’s how important Selma is.

 

 

Brett Hutton is a strange little man with a penchant for black clothing and metallic jewellery covered in skulls and images of the Occult. He watches and critiques films deep within his pressurised vault and survives on a diet of pizza, fried rice and ice coffee.

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