Archetypes: Film: Review: ‘Selma’ (2014)

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

Saturnine self-mastery is never easy. The challenge becomes even more formidable when one’s values and integrity are tied up with the political well being of a people. In Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay, the Rev. Martin Luther King finds himself in exactly this position as he straddles being true to his core beliefs while creating a strategy to achieve guaranteed voting rights for black citizens. For King, this means his role as a peaceful civil rights advocate would also require him to become a hardcore Uranian disruptor, consummate Saturnine organizer, Jupiterian educator and Mercurial communicator.

The film begins with King’s (David Oyelowo) acceptance of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of African Americans motivated by dignity. Shortly after, the scene shifts to Annie Lee Cooper (Oprah Winfrey), a black woman in Alabama, who is yet again denied that dignity when she unsuccessfully tries to register to vote.

King had already been badgering President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) – who had signed the Civil Rights Act into law the year before – for “robust enforcement” of voter-registration rights in a mostly still segregated south. But because the President insists on putting the voting-rights issue on the back burner in favor of his war against poverty, King believes he has no other choice except orchestrating a momentum so powerful that the chief executive will have to pay attention.

With support – from his wife Coretta (Carmen Ejogo), and a team including Ralph Abernathy (Colman Domingo), Bayard Rustin (Ruben Santiago-Hudson), Andrew Young (Andre Holland), John Lewis (Stephan James), Diane Nash (Tessa Thompson), James Bevel (Common), Amelia Boynton (Lorraine Tousssaint). Jimmie Lee Jackson (Keith Stanfield) and Rev. Hosea Williams (Wendell Pierce) – King opts for Selma as the ideal “staging ground.”

Although the centerpiece of Selma is the protesters’ three planned marches across that city’s Edmund Pettus Bridge towards Montgomery in 1965 – the one event that will most likely get some media coverage – the meat of the film is how those events came together. Riveting is the bird’s eye view of politicians – LBJ’s adviser (Giovanni Ribisi), Justice Department lawyer John Doar (Alessandro Nivola), Alabama governor George Wallace (Tim Roth), J. Edgar Hoover (Dylan Baker) and Fred Gray (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), among them – all trying to figure out how to keep the proverbial dam from bursting.

Rather than giving a heavy-handed history lesson, DuVernay allows history to unfold. King’s low-key approach is in stark contrast with death threats to his family, and white law enforcement’s and local racists’ Martian brutality and blood-lust towards the demonstrators, including clergy and nuns. However, King knew, once media broadcast the violence that he knew might ensue, that viewer awareness would create a momentum of its own.

Brilliantly narrow in its focus, the archetypally rich Selma is an epic and majestic eyewitness account of one man’s visionary Neptune’s history-changing pursuit of equality, solar leadership, and Plutonian transformation.

Archetype: Leader. Communicator. Negotiator. Fighter. Educator. Organizer. Disruptor. Revolutionary. Visionary. Transformer.

Astrology Archetype: ☉☿♀♂♃♄♅♆♇ (Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto)

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