My Thoughts on ‘Selma’
By Veronica Nkwocha
Selma (Historical Drama on the 1965 voting rights marches)
The Selma girls…giggling, pressed hair, church best, the memory of sweet candy tickling the nostrils and the faint perfume of mama and the mark of papa’s bristle grazing the cheek in a kiss lingers…they own the world, the flowery summer out there waiting to be explored and the joy of tomorrow…
Their lives cut short, a violent pause on a normal day, an explosion ripples through, cuts short what had been cut an overly long time prior, with a sharp tongue…words fanning the flames of fear and hate for the other.
The staccato rain of race being the lowest common denominator in describing the antagonists and protagonists hits the viewer, it tells the basic element that underlines the interactions, there are no grey areas.
Going against the tide is always an arduous task even more so when death is the price for challenging the status quo. White, black, passionate men and women, ordinary folk…and fiery preachers with their retinue of activists pulling here and there, a difference in opinion on how best to tackle the monster in the room, flawed men and dignified women chipping at the edges, fraying the seams of entrenched walls standing resolute, near timeless, final.
A tribute to Oprah Winfrey (Annie Lee Cooper) whose portrayal of the lone woman walking the lonely path trying to register a right to vote was an emphatic, poignant line in the sand.
Hats off to David Oyelowo (starring as Martin Luther King – MLK); he was the beacon on whom all eyes turned to hold this all important story, he filled the shoes, and more, oh one could see his restraint as he brought out his all, anymore and it would be too much.
He struck that delicate balance between the gift that hindsight brings, and the reality of that time not so long ago. The privilege to be alive in a time when the majority aligns with the battled for position, a sure footedness which we take for granted in today’s world on the rightness of this particular cause, absent at the time MLK walked the earth.
He and the stellar cast let us ‘see’ that world as though someone had rewound the reel and allowed us peer in, a ring side seat. Tom Wilkinson (as President Lyndon Johnson) Carmen Ejogo (as Coretta Scott King), Tim Roth (as George Wallace), Common (as Bevel).
It was interesting to see the story of a time in MLK’S life separate from the well know speech ‘I have a dream’.
Selma (Directed by Ava DuVernay) gave life to the story of a people whose lives had come to be interwoven by a bitter bent in history, clouded by race, nuanced by their common humanity. And the resolve in the face of great odds that they must see it together…step by step…mile by mile on that march from Selma, across the now iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge, to Montgomery and on to the steps of the State Capitol, an appeal to the conscience of the Nation on the very bastion of the words;
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”