Selma (2014) is a historical film directed by Ava DuVernay that depicts a series of marches for African American voting rights that originated in Selma, Alabama in 1965. In this montage, we see the first (of three) attempted marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The scene begins with the marchers lining up, accompanied by a voice over narration from a New York Times reporter, calling in the story on a nearby payphone. As hundreds of marchers walk two-by-two through Selma’s streets and onto the bridge, white state troopers and spectators block their way on the opposite side. The state troopers warn that the march constitutes an unlawful assembly and refuse to dialogue with the marchers before instigating a violent attack against them. Law enforcement gas, beat, and chase the marchers back across the bridge as the rest of the country, including Martin Luther King, President Johnson, Governor Wallace of Alabama and other citizens, watch the events unfold on national television.
How are we visually introduced to the marchers in this scene? How would you characterize them and their behavior?
How do different perspectives frame the scene (the marchers? the white reporter? the white spectators in Montgomery, the television viewers and radio listeners, including Martin Luther King, President Johnson and Governor Wallace?)
How does the soundtrack (music and sound effects) contribute to the emotion of the scene?
How is walking across this bridge a form of activism? How do the marchers (as individuals and part of a collective) hope their acts will instigate change?