Selma (2014)
January 9, 2015 10:00 PM - Subscribe

Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it very difficult for blacks to register to vote. In 1965, an Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
posted by MoonOrb (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Finely acted. Saw it just a few weeks after seeing The Great Society, a play based on LBJ's second term in office, and came away tonight feeling as if the play did an even more powerful job dramatizing the events of the Selma campaign.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:14 PM on January 9, 2015

That gist TIME article is basically "But white people aren't nuanced enough!" Maybe, for once in movieland, they've decided to subsume white nuance in favor of telling a more nuanced and interesting story about black people in American history. Historical inaccuracy in favor of story is the norm in movies, even about historical events, and complaining "but they got the white people wrong!" seems like a naive criticism to make about this film in particular.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:48 AM on January 10, 2015 [9 favorites]

This was a good movie.

And I thought LBJ came out looking relatively good at the end.
posted by isthmus at 10:37 PM on January 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Anybody else get really confused because it seemed like Wilkinson was doing a Nixon impression for the first scene he was in? Probably just me.

I was very impressed with the direction from Ava DuVernay, who I think has only done one other feature before. There's a lot of different types of scenes in this and all of them are excellently put together, without being overly flashy.
posted by dogwalker at 1:17 AM on January 11, 2015

That was so powerful. So well done. Just... so.

One thing I particularly liked was the focus on people other than King. The faces in the crowd, each with their own story, each with just as much resolve. We get to see them over and over again. We get to care about them and honor them, as individuals. This was a movie that focused not just on the importance of the leader, the symbol who can get attention, but on each and every person in the crowd who works with him. It was breathtaking, getting to focus on them.

I also loved the strategy. I loved the emphasis on the different factions with different (if largely unified) goals and methods. It really showed the intelligence and agency of the organizations and individuals.

This is a movie that let its characters be people, not just victims or martyrs or symbols or historical artifacts.
posted by meese at 1:51 PM on January 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

posted by homunculus at 3:58 PM on January 11, 2015

MeFi, dagnabit.
posted by homunculus at 4:16 PM on January 11, 2015

Absolutely tremendous. Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King made the movie for me. I do not know how that woman stayed so strong; I do not know how she *ever* answered a telephone. Martin was surrounded by men who could take strength from him, but who could also give to him. Coretta had to be strong for her children all the time. I admired Martin, but my heart broke for Coretta. Thanks to Ava DuVernay for putting women front and center along with men; not just Coretta but Annie Lee Cooper and Amelia Boynton, for letting the face of courage be the face of a middle-aged black woman.
posted by epj at 11:47 AM on January 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

Not just the speaking roles either: in the crowds, you could see all the women. Marching, standing, fighting, getting beaten, recovering. In every scene with people, there were women. It was like, say, women were half the population.
posted by meese at 12:04 PM on January 12, 2015 [7 favorites]

Ava DuVernay was on Fresh Air this past Thursday. It's a great interview.
posted by roger ackroyd at 2:19 PM on January 12, 2015


I'm vague enough on the details of the civil rights movement that the brutality was genuinely shocking. I mean, I knew that lots of people got beaten and murdered, but I couldn't remember enough details about WHO got beaten or murdered WHEN so I couldn't pick up on context clues that something bad was about to happen. So I'd be sitting there in my seat and oh there's some cute little girls walking down the stairs talking about hairstyles and then suddenly HOLY SHIT WTF and then remembering oh yeah, these must be THOSE little girls.

What an emotional rollercoaster. I cried buckets -- at one point I was sobbing in perfect sync with Viola Liuzzo while she watched the TV. And then she gets murdered for driving activists to the airport, for a final gutpunch in the "where are they now" shots at the end.

Happy Birthday, MLKJr. I'm sorry we never got to see what else you could have accomplished if you had lived a full lifespan.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:51 PM on January 19, 2015

I saw the movie last weekend. I was really struck by the tactical brilliance MLK Jr. and his civil rights coworkers, and their courage of course. I thought Tom Wilkinson as LBJ damaged the movie a bit, but the scene near the end where he decides he doesn't want to be on the same side of history as Wallace was powerful. The movie showed the genius of MLK Jr. to force him into that position.

The other thing that struck me was the abject poverty and seemingly powerless position the Civil Rights activists, and African Americans in the South in general, were in at the time.

I'm now excited to read more MLK Jr., and I hope I actually do.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:06 PM on January 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

I went in expecting to think it would be fine and walked out really impressed. I've never seen a biopic that also conveys the larger context and movement in the way this movie did. There were some really great performances too. Carmen Ejogo was really good. Henry Sanders was fantastic. Made me look him up just now and he was the star of one of my favorite films ever: Killer of Sheep. Oprah is always good. I wish she'd act more.
posted by latkes at 8:16 PM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I keep thinking about how much I enjoyed this movie. I hope to see it again in the theater somewhere.
posted by isthmus at 11:23 PM on February 7, 2015

Holy shit, I watched Selma and kept thinking I recognized the actress who played Annie Lee Cooper from somewhere, but I never once realized it was Oprah Winfrey. She really disappeared into that role.

It was a very hard movie to watch, as I expected. I can't imagine being in a position where you're just trying to get what's due you and having to stand up to such violence and hatred for even a slight chance of getting it — and knowing that anyone who assaulted or murdered you or someone you loved would face no consequences whatsoever. When I saw the guy on the bridge wrapping barbed wire around a club as the protesters approached, I literally shook. I don't think I'm a coward, but I'm pretty sure I would have turned tail and run back home at the sight of that club.
posted by orange swan at 6:55 AM on February 8, 2015

Elvis Mitchell did a great interview with Ava DuVernay recently. She talked a lot about the importance of the role of her black and female gaze on her filmmaking. It was especially refreshing to hear her interviewed by Elvis who is both a smart and super-knowledgable film expert, and also has the cultural and historical understanding that meant she didn't have to spell everything out for him about this movie.
posted by latkes at 6:22 PM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

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