By Don Malvasi
Originally Posted on Cinedork.com
Selma builds its way toward a celebration of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Sharply focused on the key months leading up to a series of three nonviolent protest marches in Selma, Alabama, it agonizingly captures the textures of human toil and determination that led to the momentous legislation. Director Ava DuVernay zeros in on Martin Luther King’s ability to channel enormous power, yet exercise exceptional self-containment and control. The film is at its strongest when it portrays the intimate, inward side of King and his entourage of key advisers and assistants. Anything but an icon, the King depicted here is very much a walking and talking human being. His worries and sorrows are portrayed side by side with his contagious confidence. We see King at a low ebb–calling Mahalia Jackson in the middle of the night and asking her to sing to him. We see King whispering his despair to Ralph Abernathy as they sit in a darkened jail cell, the latter providing succor to his friend by quoting the Bible.