As Alabama's Governor George Wallace (Tim Roth) consults with his henchmen, as well as President Johnson, about how to physically deal with Dr. King, meticulously planned, peaceful protests resume. The culmination of that event was the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. incidentally, the movie was filmed in various George and Alabama locations, including the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where the Bloody Sunday assault by Selma police actually occurred.
Technically, DuVernay uses, maybe overuses, shadows in many closeups of King. Since Oyelowo is not an exact match for King, maybe this was a wise choice.
Pluses extend to Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King and Bradford Young’s cinematography.
However, the minuses center on a couple of miscasts and a few historical flaws. Why Tom Wilkinson and Tim Roth were cast as Southerners is a puzzlement, particularly since neither physically resemble their characters (LBJ and George Wallace). Neither do they exude the necessary fervor nor speak with believable accents.
Throughout the film, I was shocked to see LBJ portrayed as such a racist obstructionist to the Civil Rights Movement. Later I commented to a screening rep that I had no idea Johnson used the n-word when he was president (referencing King and his followers), that he pushed Hoover into wiretapping King, and that he repeatedly refused to compromise in regard to the Voting Rights Act.
“I wasn’t interested in making a white-savior movie,” DuVernay boldly asserts. In other words, the devil with Lyndon Johnson.