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Director Ava DuVernay's sweepingly staged, dogmatic history lesson avoids the episodic pitfalls of the biopic by eschewing Dr Martin Luther King's whole life story in favour of a single flashpoint. She focuses on the three marches led by the civil rights beacon in 1965 from Selma in Alabama to the state capital, Montgomery, demanding equal voting rights for blacks. British actor David Oyelowo gives a career-defining performance as Dr King: stirring and full-blooded in public oratory from government steps to pulpit, fallible in private, but a match for Democratic President Lyndon B Johnson (Tom Wilkinson, whose amplified turn conveys sympathy within intransigence). There is an epic feel to the massed scenes on Edmund Pettus Bridge, but most of the action takes place indoors, where DuVernay gets the most out of a huge cast in smaller parts (including producer Oprah Winfrey, rapper Common and an uncredited Martin Sheen). If Tim Roth's segregationist governor George Wallace tips into panto and the concluding montage of news photos risks over-egging the message, the overall sense of righteous, non-violent anger is palpable.
In 1965, amidst an atmosphere of racial unrest, civil rights campaigner Dr Martin Luther King Jr plans a peaceful march across Alabama from Selma to Montgomery. His goal is to persuade President Lyndon B Johnson to change the law, allowing black people to register to vote. Fact-based drama, starring David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson and Carmen Ejogo.
Cast & Crew
Martin Luther King Jr
Lyndon B Johnson
Coretta Scott King
Lee C White
Amelia Boynton Robinson
Rev CT Vivian
Violence, swearing, racist language.
DVD and Blu-ray
6 Feb 2015
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