Blu-ray Review: Selma
One of the best films of 2015, surely one of the most underrated, and arguably the one that will endure the longest, is arriving on home video. It’s Selma, Ava DuVernay’s powerful film chronicling civil rights protests in 1965 Alabama led by Martin Luther King Jr.
British actor David Oyelowo is Dr. King, and joined by an impressive cast that includes Tim Roth, Oprah Winfrey, Common, Giovanni Ribisi, Wendell Pierce, and Tom Wilkinson.
The emotionally-charged drama with some very real parallels to protests and civil rights issues today was nominated for Best Picture at last year’s Oscars, while many argued that Oyelowo in his portrayal of Dr. King was egregiously snubbed. The film would go on to win for Best Song, however, with a stirring rendition of ‘Glory’ by Common and John Legend stealing the show.
Selma comes to Blu-ray and DVD with selection of special features that serve to buoy what is already an indelible film and a worthy, important collection to any catalog. Here’s what you get.
There are two separate tracks of audio commentary for the viewing experience, and both feature the very thoughtful Ms. DuVernay. The first pairs her up with Oyelowo, who share insightful stories and explore a range of issues. The two worked together previously on the film Middle of Nowhere, and it was Oyelowo who pushed DuVernay’s name when Selma was in need of a director. The two have great respect and admiration for each other, and their rapport makes this a great listen.
The second track is equally interesting, with DuVernay teamed up with Director of Photography Bradford Young and Editor Spencer Averick. Both men offer particular insight on crafting the look and feel of a film that went back and shot at the same venues where the actual historic events took place. They are as much a credit to the emotional tension permeating through the story as the actors and director, and theirs is a most intriguing perspective as well.
The Road to Selma
An interesting primer, this short feature more or less talks about the basic questions and story surrounding how the film came to be. Most of it is stuff you can get in any interview about the film, but it’s a helpful guide post nonetheless.
This is a far more fascinating look at the film. The cast and crew are interviewed about the ways in which they tried to mirror real life and the pressure some had from assuming real life people who were still alive and that they got to meet. It takes us on location to film in Alabama, putting the cast and crew on the spots for these events really took place. It also showcases the directing style of DuVernay; a talent that many lauded and argued should have been nominated for an Academy Award.
‘Glory’ Music Video
The song plays constantly throughout the title screen and several of the features, which works out because it’s a great song. The music video isn’t anything special, in part because the performance at the Oscars leveled all other performances.
Other Extras: This include deleted and extended scenes, as well as a school initiative and a discussion guide for those interesting in exploring more of the issues and events at hand.