Selma: Historical Drama Film by Ava DuVernay

In the opening scenes of the film, Selma, Martin Luther King is in Oslo to receive the coveted Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. In Alabama, the fight for the inclusion of the black community in the voting process is ongoing. Ann Lee Cooper is denied the opportunity to become a registered voter because she cannot answer some questions. Upon his arrival in the US, King visits the President to discuss pertinent issues affecting the blacks in the country and especially suffrage rights. The President does not appear concerned with the issue, and thus King proceeds to Selma where he organizes a demonstration to air his views (DuVernay, 2014). King and his agitated crowd march to the voters’ registration center, but the authorities disrupt the demonstration where Annie Lee Cooper and other activists including King are jailed after attacking Sheriff Jim Clark. White supremacist groups start threatening King after he decides to hold the grand Selma to Montgomery march. Different activists are involved in the march, but a court order stops it. However, the court nullifies the earlier ruling, which allows the march to proceed, which ends with King delivering a speech of victory.

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Directed and written by Ava DuVernay and Paul Webb respectively, the movie, Selma, is a historical drama film, which was released in 2014. The lead actors include David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Roth, Carmen Ejogo, and Common as Martin Luther, Lyndon Jackson, George Wallace, Coretta King, and Bevel respectively. In the film, the lead actors fulfill their expectations, as their performance is excellent. The use of influential personalities like Oprah Winfrey, who acts as Anne Lee Cooper, is recommendable. The film is directed with precision to bring out the major themes of the issues surrounding the famous Selma to Montgomery march and the subjugation of the black community at the time. The storyline flows smoothly by following King as the lead character.

I enjoyed the protesters’ fervent spirit to fight for their suffrage rights. On the other hand, I did not like the portrayal of President Johnson as an obstacle towards the fight for the black community’s voting rights. The music used was composed by Jason Moran, who is a renown composer having released eight albums. In addition, Common and Joh Legend composed the accompanying song, Glory. This track fits into the film’s theme, which is similar to that of Ferguson protests that occurred in 2014.

The movie and actors were nominated for several awards. For instance, in 2014, the movie was selected for the African-American Film Critics Association under the best picture, best director, best actor, and best film categories, where the film, Ava DuVernay, David Oyelowo, and the track, Glory, won respectively. The film has been also nominated in other different awards including the Satellite Awards, NAACP Image Award, Golden Globe Awards, and Casting Society of America among others.

The movie represents historic events precisely even though critics argue that the director omitted several individuals who played key roles in the fight for the black community’s suffrage rights. The greatest controversy lies in the depiction of President Johnson as an obstructionist seeking to thwart King’s efforts. However, I think that the movie achieves its theme of highlighting the challenges that the black community faced in the fight for voting rights in the 1960s. Compared to DuVernay’s other film, Middle of Nowhere, Selma is different as the former deals with the lives of incarcerated men’s wives. The films have different themes. Finally, the film Selma is worth watching, as it is informative.


DuVernay, A. (Director). (2014). Selma [Film]. Chicago, IL: Harpo Productions.

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StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Selma: Historical Drama Film by Ava DuVernay'. 30 December.

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