Last week I explored whether our art is up to dealing with the challenges of our times. I suggested that one of the difficulties facing artists is that there's simply more stuff to watch, and so even a great work simply gets seen by fewer people—which means we have fewer common texts to talk about, and fewer works that can move the needle substantially on our national conversations.
Having said all that, I'm going to do something I've only done once before, and also say this: you, Christianity Today reader, need to go see Selma.
See it while it's in the theater (Christmas Day in some markets and January 9 in the rest), and bring some friends or family members. It is a very, very good movie, beautifully shot by Bradford Young (Ain't Them Bodies Saints, A Most Violent Year) and deftly, almost astonishingly well-directed by relative newcomer Ava DuVernay. Its cast is terrific— Oprah Winfrey, Lorraine Toussaint, Common, Wendell Pierce, Keith Stanfield, Colman Domingo, André Holland, and many more, plus Tom Wilkinson as Lyndon B. Johnson and Tim Roth as George Wallace. Carmen Ejogo is steady and heartbreaking as Coretta Scott King, and most importantly, David Oyelowo plays Dr. King himself.
Or is he most important? That's one question the film subtly explores—Oyelowo is marvelous, no doubt, and Young places him dead center in the frame over and over, thereby conveying the weight of the movement depending on him. The film opens with King receiving the Nobel Prize and uncovers his great strength as both an unmoveable force uninterested in what's convenient, and as a savvy strategizer who understands what must be done in a mediated age to force power to listen to truth. ...1
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