How ‘Selma’ Reclaims Hollywood’s Sanitized Versions of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sucks they can’t use King’s actual words.

TIME

Ava DuVernay, the director of the highly lauded film Selma, says that “in the 50 years since Dr. King’s death, there has never been a feature film casting him as a protagonist. That’s a jaw dropper.” This deficit is not because of a lack of interest. At the beginning of 2011, there were rumored to be no fewer than five King-related projects in Hollywood; at the end of that year, due to pulled funding or the King family’s objections, only Selma and an HBO miniseries remained.

In this context, Selma, in limited release Christmas Day and wide release January 9, is not only remarkable for its rich, nuanced, and–thanks to British actor David Oyelowo–deeply textured portrayal of King, but simply for its successful arrival on the big screen at all. To make a film on King turns out to be as complicated and controversial as the man himself.

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