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Identify and explain the relationship

between the Selma and Brave New


World, evaluating Selma as a
representation of people and politics.
You must also consider techniques in
your answer.
Selma is a film text produced by Ava DuVernay and is an epic
retelling of the tumultuous three-month period in 1965 when Dr Martin
Luther King led several marches and protests in an aim to secure equal
voting rights for African Americans. In this film, the African Americans are
living in a democratic republic which alienates them from their basic right
to vote. Although legally in the constitution they were allowed to vote and
partake in life equally with other races they were denied that privilege by
white supremacists in government and by a society who believes that
they are inferior. This situation is somewhat similar to that of Aldous
Huxleys Brave New World in which the society is based on economic
stability and to ensure this is going ahead the governing bodies have
imposed their definition if happiness on the society. Like Selma, the citizen
of Brave New World are disempowered although any risk of rebellion is
extinguished and there are no means of accomplishing a successful
protest which is seen in Selma. The composer uses a variety of techniques
to expose the ironies of this situations and to emphasise the injustices
suffered by the people. The music, camera angles, screen cutting, slow
motion, props and lighting all play a significant role in highlighting the
people behind the civil rights movement who sought for political

amendments to the law. This movie adequately portrays people and


politics of the 1960s era and addresses the politics and values of the time
and how it impacted various racial groups.
This film is structures chronologically as the producer want to
accurately portray the retelling of the events. One of the technique the
producer uses to present its authenticity of the story is with the use of
logs. When an important event is about to take place text will appear on
the screen to tell the audience what is happening and what time this
occurred. The reason why the composer uses the technique of logs is to
remind the audience that this is a true story and the government seal at
the top of the texts reminds the audience of its authenticity. The use of a
type writer sound and also type writer font in the logs as well as the real
footage of the last march at Selma are further techniques the composer
uses to communicate to the audience that it is a true story. The composer
also used a narrative film because it is more likely to reach a larger
audience than another text type, therefore the message of the film would
spread to further people.
This film primarily follows Martin Luther King and his struggle for
racial equality as he battles the governing bodies such as President
Lyndon Johnson, Sheriff Clark and the FBI who are all intentionally or
unconsciously trying to undermine the movement. In this film we see
these some of Martin Luther Kings meetings with the President of the
United States and it is these three meetings we discover both Johnsons
and Kings political motivations and aims as well as discovering the

corruption of the governing systems at this time. The true outworkings of


people in politics are present in these scenes as we see King challenge
Johnson on his position on civil rights and proposes that he fix it. In one
scene in particular the technique of scene changing is seen and the scene
cuts back and forth from Martin Luther demanding Lyndon Johnson do
something about the voting rights bill to another scene where Edgar
Hoover is demanding Lyndon Johnson undermine Martin Luther King. It is
in these scenes that you see the political motivation behind these men
with the close camera shots of the mens faces to highlight their emotions
and the cutting from one scene to another to emphasise the opposing
views and motivations of the two parties. In some ways this part of the
film is very similar to Brave New World when the controller is trying to
shame Bernard and ruin him by publicly humiliating him in front of
everyone to justify exiling him to Iceland. Edgar Hoover is encouraging
Johnson to ruin King as by doing this he will ruin the movement and the
scenes changing highlights the betrayal of Lyndon and the corruption of
the politicians as they are manipulating the situation and trying to
undermine the opposing views who are against them.
The two races represented on Selma can not only be told apart from
their obvious difference in skin colour but also by the clothes they wear,
places they live and music representing the different cultures. These film
techniques seem to highlight the injustices suffered by the African
Americans and how the laws have affected their lifestyle. At the beginning
of the movie Martin Luther King and some of the other activists are driving
to Selma to examine the place where they want to hold the march and

country music starts to play in the background highlighting they are


driving to a very run down and unsophisticated town. When they arrive
the camera shots highlight the disdain the white people of the town hold
for them as it focuses on their judgmental glares. The camera shots also
strategically capture the white only signs out the front of the buildings
that further reveals to the audience how far the governments segregation
policies have gone, to the point where they are shut out of restaurants
and hotels. The composer also uses costumes to further depict the
contrasting lifestyles of the whites and blacks as the white people are
dressed in pattern clothing with bright colours whereas the blacks are
clothed in bland coloured, old clothes. This is similar to the society of the
Brave New World as the different groups (Alpha, Beta, Gamma) are all
identifiable by their uniform and each groups is designed to look different
from the other. All of these techniques are important in the telling of the
story as they further aid to emphasise the injustices suffered by the
African Americans.
The governing bodies are depicted in this movie as manipulative
and self-interested in matters of the state to a point where they will
overlook unjust murders and deaths for the sake of votes and popularity.
The composer seeks to emphasise the brutality these people are under
using a variety of techniques such as slow motion, camera angles, music
and lighting. Slow motion is used two times in this film and each time it is
used to depict the violence the African Americas are under. At the
beginning of the film there are four Negros girls walking down the stair of
their house when a bomb explodes killing them instantly. The bomb blast

is drawn out by slow motion with peace music playing in the background
which makes the audience reflect on the brazen brutality on the innocent.
The second time slow motion is used is when Jimmy Lee Jackson gets shot
by the police and this scene is slowed down to depict the anguish of his
relatives faces and also to emphasis the terror of what is happening. The
uses of close up camera angles in most films are used to depict emotion
and this is seen especially when Annie Lee Cooper is trying to register to
vote and the camera shot is close on her face expressing her sheer
determination but also despair when her request is denied. These camera
shots are frequently used throughout the film to subtly show that the
African Americans are seen as the inferior race to the whites and they
also help to provide the audience a first-hand viewing of these injustices.
When King and some of the other protestors are thrown in prison for
marching the camera is on the outside of the bars looking in giving the
viewer the whites perspective, emphasising the control they hold over
the African Americans. The music also helps to show the cause of the
African Americans as one song that is played is called got the new world
in my view which has a double meaning as it represents that they could
enter the new world of heaven if they are killed fighting for their cause or
they could enter in to the new world of equality if they win their fight. The
music also tends to make the scenes of violence even more terrifying as
the ominous music in the background of the police beatings highlight the
terror the victims are in. Overall this film is a very dark film which is
meant to represent the bleakness of the situation and misfortunes
experienced in the movement. The use of lighting to make a scene

bleaker can be clearly scene when King and some of the other activists
are in the dark prison cell which highlights the despair of the situation. In
discussing people and politics, these techniques clearly help to emphasise
the unfair situation of the African Americans and moreover how the
government turned a blind eye to these horrendous crimes.
This film depicts the acts of defiance by the African American people
against the government and other white supremacists and shows how
they went about achieving the right to vote. This act of defying the
government or the controlling bodies is also seen in Brave New World as
Helmholtz, Bernard and John all see how the people are disempowered.
The difference between Brave New World and Selma in this respect is that
any success from a protest is not possible in Brave New World as the
people are all conditioned to love their servitude and to think that their
way of living in normal. Any acts of rebellion, such as the defiance of
Helmholtz, John and Bernard, is swiftly put out by the controllers so it does
not grow.
The film is titled Selma because it is the place where Martin Luther
King led a number of movements to gain the attention of the government
and to show the unnecessary violence being bestowed upon them. The
music in the film plays a vital role in the scenes of the marches as they
take the viewer on an emotional journey of tension and also triumph.
When they are first marching to Selma the music builds up and then stops
once they reach the opposition to intensify the situation. It is then the
tense music begins and drums start to play almost like it is replicating an

execution. This is creating a sense of anticipation and dread for the viewer
as they feel part of the experience and can relate to the tension felt by
the characters on the screen. However the music isnt only used to depict
the intensity of the marches but it is also used to show the triumphs of the
African Americans and this can be seen in the last scene when there is
rather heroic music playing over the defiant panning shot of the vast
crowd. Another technique that is used is the camera shot of Jimmy Lee
Jackson lying on the coroners table whilst a voice over of Martin Luther is
speaking over the top. The combination of these two techniques show the
martyrs from the civil rights movement and seeks to highlight the African
Americans passion and heroism in the face of adversity. These techniques
help to highlight the defiance of the African Americans and the emotions
throughout their fight for freedom.
This film tries to capture the essence of all the opposing views on
the civil rights movement so that the audience can somewhat get an
accurate portrayal of the event that occurred at Selma. Screen cutting in
the scene before one of the marches is a technique used to show the
audience all views as the scene cuts to different groups and how they are
preparing for the march. The white men in the towns want to meet them
with force and attack them, the grassroots activist are arguing about
participating as they believe King is just doing it for popularity and the
other African Americans are practicing marching passively and not
retaliating if attacked. The composer also manages to strategically place
props such as the white only sign and the confederate flag behind the

white revellers to show the attitudes of the white people in American at


this time and the tensions between the two racial groups.
However this film isnt just a story about the injustices suffered by
the African Americans and how the government officials misused there
position for their own agendas. It is also a story about triumph over
adversity and how the African Americans won the battle and were able to
vote. The composer uses camera angles and music to capture the
changing attitudes of society and also the triumph of the last march.
Nearing the last march Martin Luther King motions to all listening, white
and black, to join them in a march for freedom and he calls upon church
going people and preachers to answer the call as it is their moral duty.
Many of them did feel compelled to act and this is captured especially in
the last march as the camera zooms in on specific people in the march,
the white people, to highlight that change has come and that now they
are standing side by side. In the last march there is also a panning shot of
the thousands of people marching across the bridge whilst the triumphant
and victorious music plays in the background showing the strength in
numbers. This is important as it shows that the political turmoil bestowed
upon the people is slowly fading as equality is winning and that the
systems that used to deprive them of their rights has finally been revised.
The relationships between key characters in Selma is an important
aspect to the film as it shows the political motivations of the government
and also the personal side to the movement. A look into Martin Luther
Kings personal life is displayed in this film as we see the way the

government and other white supremacists tried to undermine their


relationship by sending threatening calls to him and painting him as a
womanizer. The audience also sees the emotional toll the movement place
on their relationship as the sullen music in the scene when Martin Luther
King tells his wife he is leaving for Selma in the morning. The music in this
scene is meant to show the fear Coretta has for King as he leaves because
she may never see him again and it emphasises the terror they are under.
The composer was successfully able to capture the political gridlock
and turmoil suffered by the African Americans and also the outstanding
victory of the passing if the voting rights bill with a number of techniques.
To most of the African Americans the fight for freedom almost became a
religion as they tried to fight the supremacy that had destroyed equality.
They are trying to seek political change but they know this is not possible
unless the government fell compelled to act. This movie accurately
portrays the unfortunate situation these people were in and the methods
they used to bring equality. The lighting, camera angles, music, props,
screen cutting and slow motion are all techniques used successfully by the
composer to emphasise this political situation and its personal impact. In
terms of people and politics, this texts manages to encapsulate the very
essence of it as it clearly represents the defiance of a people when faced
with a discriminating political adversity and how political power can be
abused to the detriment of people.