“SELMA” Is The Film I Have Been Waiting For

I have never anticipated a film so much since the theatrical release of Dreamgirls in 2006. But unlike that time, when I had listened to the soundtrack numerous times and saw every possible clip, I yielded to those kinds of actions with Selma. In fact, I felt like I already knew too much from watching interviews with the director, Ava DuVernay and lead actor, David Oyelowo or reading news and reviews about the film. I wanted to go into the film “fresh-minded”. However, that did not stop me from thinking about how I was going to exactly explain my reaction to the film if people were to ask me what I thought. But when it finally came time, and as I walked out of the theater this past Sunday afternoon, I found myself scattered brain on how to explain what I really just saw.

Thankfully, after a few short drafts and space from the time I left the film, I finally came to some terms. Without giving anything specific away, I can sum up my feelings for Selma as being one of the greatest films I have ever seen and all I have ever wanted to see in a film depicting the Civil Rights Movement. It is a necessary film that does not shy away from the brutality that was used to enforce the injustices of that time, reveals every single truth of all sides, and humanizes Dr. King while also giving great focus to those who stood along with him. Those who contributed to such great impact like Ralph Abernathy, Bayard Rustin, Andrew Young, and Diane Nash, but are still so often forgotten in our history books when the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement is intermittently explained. To see the backbone of King’s organization and community for his leadership was something we have yet really seen in a film. The numerous scenes of them collaborating, arguing, and marching together were beautiful in themselves.

Any expectations I had for the film were actually blown out of the water by my girl Ava DuVernay. First, let me point out that I fell in love with Ava as a director about two years ago when I first saw her short for the fashion line Miu Miu, “The Door”. It catapulted me into a bunch of her other works which featured small casts and strong focus on Black women. Yet, DuVernay is beyond brilliant for her direction with Selma, widening her skill with larger ensemble scenes. Also her tradition of focusing on Black women remains evident as we get to see more women activists throughout the movement headlined by the common womanhood of wife/mother in Coretta Scott King. Besides her choice of character-driven scenes, throughout the film, every other scene and moment captivates until the end credits begin to roll. This is also due to Paul Webb’s work as the writer, effortlessly intertwining the historical structure in both a macro and micro level. I mean really, just shouts out to the whole crew because every single second evoked some kind of emotion for me from the camera shots to the score. I promise you I teared up just from a certain camera move.

If you have noticed, I haven’t said anything about the cast yet because when I say the whole cast is magnificent, I mean THE WHOLE CAST IS MAGNIFICENT. Every single actor brought something to the film, depicting those civilians who decided to answer to King’s call for action even against all odds. Of course special mentions for David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo who truly absorbed their portrayals of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Not only did Oyelowo grasp his vocal pattern and mannerisms, but also rose to the occasion of showing King’s more vulnerable and weary moments making his portrayal memorable. As for Ejogo who has always had my heart, she has it even more for her second portrayal of Coretta Scott King; a deeper & more significant interpretation of the two.

Cast of “Selma” | Tessa Thompson, Kent Faulcon, Corey Reynolds, E. Roger Mitchell, Common, Stephan James, André Holland, Niecy Nash, Wendell Pierce, David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Omar J. Dorsey, Lorraine Toussaint & Colman Domingo

And even though this film has more impact than any award, with the start of that circuit, I still have to voice my consideration. I have not seen every film yet, so I can’t objectively say it deserves all the awards, but as we kick off the season with Selma already garnering nominations for the Golden Globes, Independent Spirit, NAACP Image, and Critics Choice Awards, with strong prejudice I WILL say: IT DESERVES ALL THE AWARDS. It is more than a MLK or Civil Rights biopic, it is an American film that has always been needed to showcase a time that is boiled down to maybe one chapter or one month a year. It is the film that our country needs and one I have been waiting for.

So the bottom-line is, people: RUN & SEE SELMA! You may not have my exact sentiments or emotional experience, but at minimum, you will leave the theater thinking different than you did before.



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