|Selma. Please click to enlarge.|
Selma / Selma. GB/US 2014. PC: Cloud Eight Films, Celador Films, Harpo Films, Pathé, Plan B Entertainment. EX: Nick Bower, Ava DuVernay, Cameron McCracken, Diarmuid McKeown, Nan Morales, Brad Pitt. P: Christian Colson, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Oprah Winfrey. D: Ava DuVernay. SC: Paul Webb. ED: Spencer Averick. DP: Bradford Young. SFX: Scott Willis. PD: Mark Friedberg. AD: Kim Jennings. Set dec: Elizabeth Keenan. Cost: Ruth E. Carter. Make-up: Melissa Forney. M: Jason Moran. C: David Oyelowo (Martin Luther King, Jr.), Tom Wilkinson (Lyndon B. Johnson), Tim Roth (George Wallace), Common (James Bevel), Carmen Ejogo (Coretta Scott King), Lorraine Toussaint (Amelia Boynton Robinson), Oprah Winfrey (Anne Lee Cooper), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Fred Gray), Niecy Nash (Richie Jean Jackson), Colman Domingo (Ralph Abernathy), Giovanni Ribisi (Lee C. White), Alessandro Nivola (John Doar), Keith Stanfield (Jimmi Lee Jackson), Andre Holland (Andrew Young), Tessa Thompson (Diane Nash), Wendell Price (Hosea Williams), Nigel Thatch (Malcom X), Dylan Baker (J. Edgar Hoover), Ledisi (Mahalia Jackson), Omar Dorsey (James Orange). 128 min
Blu-ray from Walt Disney Nordic with Finnish subtitles by Arja Meski.
Introduced by the U.S. Ambassador Charles C. Adams, Jr., Stephen Lee, and Anna Möttölä.
Cinema Orion, Helsinki, together with U.S. Embassy and Walt Disney Nordic (Black History Month), 6 Feb 2016
Reportedly the first film on Martin Luther King, Selma is an engrossing dramatization of an essential part of American history of the 1960s. It is a fighting film, a film about peaceful demonstration and resistance in the spirit of Tolstoy and Gandhi. It is a key story about changing the world, and I am grateful for Ava DuVernay and her team and cast for that.
There is the daunting challenge of having actors play world historical figures that even a schoolboy in distant Finland had some idea about. David Oyelowo is great in the leading role, and as a non-American I can accept the others, as well, although they are British. There has also been the special difficulty about not getting the access to King's actual speeches, or Mahalia Jackson's actual voice. But challenges are made to be overcome.
The main drive of the film is powerful. There is in the beginning a vignette of the four little girls, also documented in a masterful film by Spike Lee. My favourite scenes include the debate in the car between King and an activist after the murder of a white clergyman ("we are too far to turn back now") and King's great speech in the finale. I understand that the account of LBJ has been criticized, and I am out of my depth to comment on that. Anyway, among the high points of the film is also the eye-to-eye debate of LBJ and Wallace at White House.
A remarkable film worth revisiting. Conventional but powerful. The third march has a real epic feeling of history. We can change the world if we are united.
In our collaborations with the U.S. Embassy we have repeatedly noticed that it has often been difficult to access in theatrical formats even high profile films relevant to U.S. black experience. This time we were not able to access a DCP of Selma, and as the best alternative projected a blu-ray by arrangement with Walt Disney Nordic, free of charge. A film as great as Selma was not theatrically released in Finland.
OUR PROGRAM NOTE BY JARI SEDERGREN: