I saw Selma earlier today. It was absolutely fantastic. The cinematography and presentation of all of the events were awesome, even though they were very brutal and detailed. Despite how many people will probably feel about the brutality, they didn’t go as far as they could have (Tarantino style). The movie focuses on MLK Jr.’s adventures concerning Selma, Alabama (hopefully that’s easy to pick up on). It’s after the events in Birmingham, so no “I Have a Dream” speech, although it’s referenced plenty of times throughout the film. It details the fight for the right for African-Americans to vote in America in the 60’s, specifically in Alabama. The right was in existence, but Alabama had done its best to prevent them from voting at that point mainly by making requirements for voter registration ludicrous and nearly impossible for most black citizens, which is shown in a scene at the beginning of the movie.
The film does get a few things wrong; so, historians, please don’t get your hopes too high going into this. Google scholars, as well, don’t get upset when you google things from the film and they aren’t exactly historically accurate. That shouldn’t deter people from seeing this film, just as I don’t think it should for films like Noah and Exodus: gods and kings (that’s another story, sorry if you disagree). The film focuses more on the tension among all of the major figures involved in this part of the civil rights movement as well as the brutality involved in the Selma part of the civil rights journey. The only thing that bugged me (and it didn’t bug me very much) was the portrayal of J. Edgar and LBJ. J. Edgar is portrayed as an evil guy willing to do anything that involves killing to get the job done. That’s kind of understandable, though, but LBJ is portrayed as being completely opposed to MLK Jr.’s efforts from the beginning. Not completely opposed, but just unwilling to fully cooperate immediately. He constantly refuses to fully cooperate with MLK Jr.’s efforts to fight against Alabama. In reality, I don’t really know exactly how their relationship was behind closed doors, because they were closed and it happened before I was born; but the general understanding is that they worked well together on the issues, although LBJ asked MLK Jr. to wait until later to handle this because of the other issues going on in the world. He’s portrayed as a very negative and angry man, and he doesn’t really come around to MLK Jr.’s view until he comes face to face with the problem. I loved that they put the element of waiting into the movie. That was something that seriously irked MLK Jr. in his day, and it’s something that he writes on in his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” (which, if you haven’t read, you definitely should. Especially before watching this movie). The civil rights movement was constantly asked to wait. If it wasn’t told to stop, it was told to wait until a better time. The movie captures it very well, especially MLK Jr.’s real hesitations and then understanding that life is now, not in the future.
When MLK Jr. is not opposed by the president in the film, he’s opposed by his cohorts in the movement as well as the brutal political figures in Alabama (who were quite accurately portrayed, unfortunately for them). The part that I really appreciated them putting into the film was a cameo appearance of Malcolm X. Recently, with all of the Ferguson riots, there have been many mentions of both MLK Jr. and Malcolm X, usually in the same reference. I’m not going to put my opinion of the Ferguson incident in here, but I will say that I don’t like it when Malcolm X and MLK Jr. quotes are used together to support the same point. These two figures were fighting for the same thing: equality. However, they went about it in very different ways, and the movie does a great job of showing that. They weren’t enemies, but they weren’t exactly fighting together. Sorry for the tangent, just really wanted to address that lol.
The movie does not demonize white people, although it may seem like it at first. They just do a good portrayal of the opposition to the civil rights movement. They do a great job of showing some of the white supporters of the movement in the film, and showing what happened to them.
In conclusion to this long/short review, this movie was fantastic. The music was great, and the acting was freaking awesome. The story was great and extremely inspiring, just as the true story is. The movie does a wonderful job of depicting this very intense period of the civil rights movement and most of the people involved, especially MLK Jr. I was very glad that they did not remove the element of faith involved in the movement. Not just because I am a Christian, but because that was the most important motivation behind MLK Jr.’s role in the movement. He’s always been an inspiring figure in my life, and the people of my generation should always remember his words, “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” and “Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.” I highly recommend this movie to everyone. I don’t think that I would recommend bringing your kids, just because of the intensity and violence, but you might, it’s your choice. It’s definitely a tearjerker, so just prepare yourself.
There were many things that I didn’t put into this review and many things that I might not have needed to put in, but you can comment and ask if you want to know about anything else. I have plenty of opinions. This is the first time that I’ve ever written a movie review, but I love movies so I might do more. Let me know if you like it.