Movie Review: Selma

Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
You may leave here for four days in space
But when you return it’s the same old place
The pounding of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead but don’t leave a trace
Hate your next door neighbor but don’t forget to say grace

And tell me
Over and over and over and over again my friend
You don’t believe
We’re on the eve of destruction

— Barry McGuire, Eve of Destruction


Selma tells the story that every American should know by heart. But most of us only know: “It has something to do with black people and Martin Luther King.”

After watching Selma, the images of hate, repression, brutality by white supremacists against blacks, injustice and twisted views of the rights of people will forever remain etched into the minds and memories of the viewer.

During a dangerous and turbulent three-month period in 1965, Martin Luther King led a campaign to secure equal voting rights for blacks. The white power structure, even though only 50% of the population in the south, wasn’t having any of it, and thugs blew up churches killing 14-year-old girls, and attacked unarmed and peaceful protestors with baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire. The police stood by and turned the other way, or worse, charged the crowds in riot gear and beat helpless people with batons, whipping them, and kicking them in their backs as they fled. The opposition of the establishment was violent.

The movie takes us there with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) when he stands up to President Johnson (Tom Wilkonson) in the Oval Office, holding firm in his demand. We are there when the epic march from Selma to Montgomery resulted in one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

As I watched, I marveled how so many people, only 50 years ago, could be so blatantly prejudiced and discriminating, while they pledge every day

one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all…

Selma is a 2 hour and 7 minute movie with a powerful thought in every minute. I often disparage religion, but in this film, religious imagery created the most powerful moment of all for me: It was when King called on clergy from all over the country to join him in the march in Selma, and there they were, all types of creeds and denomination, shoulder to shoulder, on the bridge, standing and facing police in riot gear. When the police backed down, King led them all in prayer.

Belief is a powerful thing.

Selma took a lot out of me to watch, but it will stand out as one of the very best movies I have seen in years.

Rating - Four Stars

Book Review: Edge of Eternity – by Ken Follett

Edge of Eternity

Edge of Eternity is another giant work by a giant writer, a thousand-page book that I could not put down. It is the third book of the Century Trilogy by Follett. There is only one thing wrong with the Century Trilogy: the way he named the books:

  • Fall of Giants
  • Winter of the World
  • Edge of Eternity
  • I could never remember these titles, and I still won’t now that I have read all three. They are epic-sounding, big and vague, and in my opinion impossible to remember. But that’s ok. I think of them as book 1, 2 and 3 of the Century Trilogy.

In Edge of Eternity, we still follow the main families that were introduced in the first two books, but now we are with the grandchildren. The story spans from 1961, the Kennedy presidency and the beginning of the civil rights movement, all the way to 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In Germany, our characters are the Franck family, with Werner and Carla being the grandparents. The main characters are Walli, who becomes a pop musician, and the various characters around him.

In Russia, the patriarchs Grigori and Katherine are still alive, but the action surrounds their grandchildren, the twins Tanya and Dimka.

In the United States, Lev Peshkov is still a dandy, but George, his black grandson is the main character.

In England, Ethel still is the leader of the Williams family. Her grandson Dave, a musician, is the protagonist in this story.

Finally, the Dewars are also around, Cam and Beep, the grandchildren, being the leading characters.

Since it has been too long since I read the first two books, I had to pause occasionally to make sure I connected the story all the way to the present in this book, but as I kept reading, things kept coming together.

I love epics, and this trilogy is as epic as it gets.

Through the main characters, I got to be in the room with Krushchev in the Kremlin and Kennedy in the White House during the Cuban missile crisis. I was able to follow the civil rights movement and the thinking of its leaders like Martin Luther King. The pop music culture that dominated the sixties in England and the United States came alive through the band that Walli and Dave formed, called Plum Nellie. How did communism sustain itself through the leaderships of Krushchev, Breshnev and Gorbachev? Why did the East Germans build a wall to imprison its own people for decades, and how did they get away with it? And why did the Berlin wall eventually come down?

Following the main characters in this story, I felt I had a front-row seat with the major figures in the history of the 20th century and its huge movements. History came alive in front of my eyes, through all three of these works, unlike any other that I can remember reading.

Edge of Eternity is an extremely well written book and part of a powerful trilogy about the history of the 20th century.

Rating: **** (out of 4)