DRAMA; 2hr 8min
STARRING: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson, Oprah Winfrey
King of the road: Oyelowo and Ejogo
“This votin’ thing’s just gonna have to wait,” US President Lyndon Baines Johnson (Wilkinson) — LBJ — says dismissively to Dr Martin Luther King Jr (Oyelowo) when the 36-year-old Nobel Laureate pastor petitions him to grant American negroes the basic — to white people — right to vote. Adamant in his unshakeable gravity, Dr King begs to disagree. And so it is that in 1965, he and his disenfranchised followers attempt to march 87km in peaceful protest from Alabama's Selma to Montgomery.
The first two ventures erupt into predictable, knee-jerk violence. King and company press doggedly forward, on March 21 finally rallying a thousands-strong torrent of blacks and whites for a triumphant, four-day crusade. Bolstered by archival footage, their statement of unity is a stirring and definitive peak, but director Ava DuVernay’s thoughtful, appreciative film most strongly illuminates the shadows of Dr King’s daunting and exacting inner world. In his tactical battles with LBJ, his conflicted bond with his wife, Coretta (Ejogo), and in the sapping pull of duty, the life-changing leader is above all a heavily weighted man, compelled to oppose what he cannot disregard.