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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The documentary covers a wide range of key moments in 20th-century U.S. civil rights history and provides context and information on what they led to. How these events tie into Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and his influence on culture is the thrust of the film.
The documentary is full of positive messages about social justice, activism, non-violent, peaceful protests, perseverance, and self-belief. These messages are told eloquently and intelligently.
Positive Role Models
Martin Luther King Jr. is an inspiring speaker who pledges non-violent approaches to enact change among civil rights in the U.S. during the 1960s. He is principled, follows a moral code, and helps bring about positive change. He remains an iconic positive role model to this day.
The film is about one of the most iconic Black Americans to ever live. Martin Luther King Jr. is spoken of highly by a diverse selection of interviewees, from popular talk show hosts to historians to politicians to actors. The documentary also tells of King's legacy and where the U.S. was at time of filming (2007), acknowledging that there's still plenty to do in terms of equal rights and combating racism.
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Violence & Scariness
Archive footage of riots and people fleeing tear gas fired by police. Talk of activists being killed. Photograph of King's body after his murder.
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In archive footage from the 1950s and '60s, the racial slur "negro" is used in reference to Black American people. One use of "crap."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that King: Man of Peace in a Time of War is an educational documentary about the civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.. The movie presents key moments in U.S. history and shows archive footage of King constantly behaving with dignity, self-belief, and perseverance as he helped make huge changes in the U.S. during the 1950s and '60s. Many interviewees speak about King's work and legacy, including Colin Powell, Hugh Hefner, Laurence Fishburne, and Jesse Jackson. Those interviewed celebrate King while also acknowledging the work must continue to change mindsets and improve the rights and opportunities of Black Americans. Archive footage shows people being teargassed by police as well as Black Americans being referred to as "negroes." There is also one use of "crap." There is reference to activists being murdered and a photograph of King's body at the site of his murder, aged 39. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This solid documentary is packed with information that may be common knowledge to some, but for others -- especially younger viewers -- will be especially enlightening. As well as running through King's incredible achievements, King: Man of Peace in a Time of War also acts as a microscope to another age. A few minutes are given over to experts from King's appearance on Mike Douglas' TV talk show, in which he is grilled about his opposition to U.S. military action in Vietnam. The calm, measured, and respectful debate is a million miles from the hysterical, flashy, and combative TV displays that play out today. Seeing King deliver a mannered, intelligent, and arresting argument on the TV show, or indeed to 250,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial at Washington D.C., is nothing short of inspirational.
The documentary also highlights rifts between movements, such as Malcolm X's condemnation of King's non-violent approach. Like all aspects of it, just enough information is given to feel informed but also inspire the viewer into reading more about the subject. As well as being a celebration of King, the movie doesn't shy away from the chaos that followed his murder and the state of civil rights in the U.S. 50 years on. As Colin Powell says in the movie, "The danger is thinking it's all done."
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.