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Selma

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Most people would agree that The Holocaust, anti-gay laws, child slavery and racial discrimination and segregation are some of the worst human rights violations in history. A testament to what people are truly capable of doing to each other. But out of these struggles arise figures of hope of change – one the greatest of all is undoubtedly Martin Luther King.

Selma is the unforgettable true story of the tumultuous three month period in 1965, when Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in Southern States which culminated in the iconic protest march from Selma to Montgomery. Battling a corrupt police force, citizens of the town and the US President himself, Selma is a heartbreaking tribute to the power of the human spirit and one of the greatest civil rights campaigners of all time.

British born David Oyelowo (The Paperboy, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) does a spectacular job portraying Martin Luther King. From mastering his Atlanta, Georgia, twang to showing the different shades that made this great man. I feel it would have been easy to portray this character as a larger than life, perfect figure. But the film appreciates the subtleties of King’s life. He struggles with family issues, leadership conflicts and was even unfaithful to his wife. He is shown as a thinking, feeling, flawed human being, which is a really nice touch as it allows the audience to relate and become emotionally involved with the character. Oyelowo was definitely robbed of an Oscar nomination.

The film boasts a wonderful supporting cast of industry greats like Tom Wilkinson as President Johnson, Tim Roth and Oprah Winfrey that makes for a well-rounded film.

The depiction of racial injustice is done superbly. From the quiet cruelty of Selma citizens of being denied the right to vote in their state, to the brawling police brutality during the first peaceful protest, the audience is left breathless at the sight of such cruelty.

As I was watching, I couldn’t help but feel ashamed and disappointed that this kind of racial violence is still an issue today. The deaths of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Michael Brown at the hands of police have sparked ongoing racial protests in the US. I was left with the sense that there is still a lot of work to do to achieve the racial equality that Martin Luther King fought and died for.

The fact that Selma addresses racial issues that are still relevant today makes this film all the more powerful – it’s definitely a must see.


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