Parents' Guide to

Selma

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Outstanding drama about MLK's fight for equal rights.

Movie PG-13 2014 122 minutes
Selma Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 14 parent reviews

age 8+

Required for all Americans

This film is important for Th e education of Americans of all ages. These hard truths must be seen and heard so we can learn, grow and keep creating change without ceasing.
age 10+

Continued + Discussion + Lesson = Important, fabulous movie

Moments of strong language. Discuss the Civil Rights movement! Important film! The violence in the march is less than the violence in the actual live footage from the march. A mature 10/11 year old can watch this with context.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (14 ):
Kids say (29 ):

Thanks to the fabulous performances, the gripping script, and the important subject matter, Selma is one of the finest films ever made about the civil rights movement. As Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner did with Lincoln, Selma writer-director Ava DuVernay focuses on a very specific time in a legendary historical figure's life, rather than taking a sweeping, generalized look at Martin Luther King Jr.'s whole life. The result is an important drama that's remarkable in scope and relevance to the continued national issues surrounding institutional racism. Oyelowo, who starred in DuVernay's previous feature, may be British, but he's perfectly cast as the civil rights leader, and Ejogo is excellent as Coretta Scott King (she played her before in the critically acclaimed HBO Film Boycott). Together they capture a picture of the Kings that's honest and not idealized. DuVernay doesn't gloss over the fact that the FBI monitored King and exposed his infidelities to Coretta. But his failings as a husband, while worth mentioning, don't take away from the importance of his work.

What's especially powerful about Selma is that it's not all-consumingly grim and upsetting (although there are a few nearly unbearable moments when it's hard not to cry). Yes, there are white supremacists yelling the "N" word and beating nonviolent protestors, but there are also bits of humor -- like when King and a seemingly never-ending group of friends descend on a preacher's home for his wife's cooking, or when Johnson tells Alabama Governor George Wallace (Tim Roth) exactly what history will say about him. There's even romance -- like the Kings dancing in their Nobel Prize gala finery. In addition to Oyelowo, Wilkinson, and Ejogo, standout performances include James as the young John Lewis, Wendell Pierce as Reverend Hosea Williams, and Oprah Winfrey as a woman who's unable to register to vote.

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