Selma : A Film Review

Selma 2014 US/UK Cert. 12a.
Director. Ava DuVernay. Cast: David Oyelowo, (Martin Luther King Jr.), Carmen Ejogo, (Coretta Scott King), Tom Wilkinson, (Lyndon Baines Johnson), Andre Holland, (Andrew Young), Omar J. Dorsey, (James Orange), Tessa Thompson, (Diane Nash) Colman Domingo, (Ralph Abernathy), Wendell Pierce, Tim Roth, (George Wallace), John Lavelle, (Roy Reed), Jeremy Strong, Dylan Baker, (J. Edgar Hoover), Oprah Winfrey, (Annie Lee Cooper).

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Selma in the 1960’s
When the Television hit the living rooms of modern life in the shapes of mass produced plastic boxes, carrying life through the lens of the Networks and state Media outlets which quickly had become the news digest medium of moving image broadcasting.

The war in Vietnam covered a long period but when in 1960 US President Eisenhower pledged American assistance to the South Vietnamese after decades of sporadic involvement which went back to the early days of the century and further the Television was there there to bring pictures.

Ava DuVernay the Director of Selma clearly is aware of the media presence, the new media, in tackling Selma and the story of the war fought inside America in respect of Racism. The division of white black and other races was a complete unresolved and to a large extent still remains an unresolved mammoth in the Politics of the United States of America as well as every continent on the planet.

Lyndon Blaine Johnson was only a small part of it.
As far as Martin Luther King Jr. was concerned he was the principle obstacle.
So what linkage has the Film with LBJ and what he was at?
There were 5 U.S. Presidents during its involvement in the Vietnam War. They were:
1. Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961)
He wanted the breakup of Vietnam to stop the influence of Communism in South East Asia.
2. John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
He decided to use Machinery sending masses of aid. Three weeks before he was assassinated he had organised a coup against Diem who he was also ‘aiding’.
3. Lyndon Johnson (1963 –1969)
He became embroiled in 1964 vastly upgrading the inner war by the Operation Rolling Thunder. US Combat troops had hit the ground in March 1965. He instituted the draft in the face of anti-war protests across campuses and Wider America.
In 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred and its resolution gave Johnson more powers to wage the war in Vietnam. He was the President who ordered the bombing campaign called Operation Rolling Thunder and sent the first combat troops to South Vietnam in March 1965 after an attack of Viet Cong on U.S air base in Pleiku. The draft was instituted soon after that and caused many anti-war protests nationwide especially inside campuses.
4. Richard Nixon (1969 -1974)
He decided Vietnam was not enough and decided to go into Loas and Cambodia. His Christmas bombing of 1972 an especially personal act of retribution on North Vietnam
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So this is the background to the film.
The Proximity of War
To wage war you need troops and so for Texas anti-communist Lyndon Blaine Johnson it must have been obvious that as he had a war of continuous making; it was an inherited war against Communism, sometimes fought with the US also.
The arms industry was a widescoping and labour intensive work and profit wielding operation, giving with it the supremacy of power sought against the Eastern Bloc of Communism post-war that Russia had become and the quite Maoist China had grown into against its agrarian broadly egalitarian principles, the modern America had within it the black community disenfranchised and treated as second class citizens.
Producing Product
Brad Pitt in Producing role and Ava Du Vernay the Director must have sat down together and looked about at a script or treatment to sort out into Selma. The casting is odd and the Criminal Americans, George Wallace, LB Johnson with principle British Actors complete with wavering Texas, Alabama accents and frankly dumbed down ‘psychotic minds and blood thick contempt’ are cop outs by Americans not wishing to put that nest of vipers on their own doorstep.
It makes you wonder do they have what it takes to tell a complete story.
The counterbalance is also that perversely the Mr and Mrs King performances of the good characters is splendidly accurately and deeply prescribing the emotion and humanity both these people undoubtedly possessed. Oprah is not sole a exception in delivering a stunning and extraordinary memorable acting part. There is seldom an American who does not inhabit nor convince you this reality is now in the room.
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Civil Rights
To tell the story of Martin Luther King is a grand project. Quite literally he alone turned the United States of America to the mirror and look into itself.

The hatred , the division, the sectarian, the discriminatory, the exploitation, the inequality the cultural gulf was theirs to own in the USA.
David and Carmen
David Oyeloyo is introduced to us as Martin Luther King in the Brad Pitt peacock way, in a plush hotel room with the peacock feather flock wallpaper alongside the doting wife Coretta played beautifully and smartly by Carmen Ejogo. The Nobel Peace Prize awaits and The scene is our introduction as the Ascot tie is unfurled and retired as with customary and honest reflection, David Oyeloyo conveys the differences existing throughout America as they both have come to this citadel of honorable notoriety.

A very Scandinavian backdrop of pastel mistreatment sand geometric clashes of subdued angst cover the walls behind him on acres of canvas as he receives the acclaim and he has the opportunity to deliver his soliloquy.

The stage is set and we are next to see the memorable, very, very, accomplished performance of the central embodiment of the issue in the form of Oprah Winfrey as Annie Lee Cooper, a nurse sought her right to vote in Selma Courthouse. It is a scene of oppression and dignity plainly conceived and effectively delivering for its writer Paul Webb his and our grasp of where we shall be going.

It is the straight and narrow path which it has been the vision of Martin Luther King to symbolism, focus and harness around the odd gospel doctrinarians that stood the Black communities in good faith through the venal hardships of white slavery and which manifested all over the world in various non-believing forms.

The he actors are well up to this task as most and probably all a have a large part of the memory, the history, the feelings of hurt manifested and manifesting in every core of their existence. This is the story as noted above of holding up mirrors and seeing the reflection inside and out. Of seeing through the impressive though tangibly flawed concept of film another reminder of ourselves flawed and unable to breakdown fears.
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Black Power for a War?
Tom Wilkinson as Lydon Blaine Johnson plays the role of the US President (the one the film ignores who saw the need for troops and Black troops suiting his warring ambitions against Commmunism) as a vexed, lagubrious control freak leader manipulating all about him in an ill fitting suit and displaying cockamayne bullshit language as a means of acting plain stupid when he utilised it as another tool in the armoury. David Oyeloyo is never outplayed and neither is given the reign to overbalanced the other in direction. Quite literally this combat of words and gestural conflict are brilliantly handled by Ava DuVernay.

The same is with almost every passage through the film.

The delivery of the Selma town as being atypical Alabama and spokes town for the cities. The Boston’s, Philidelphias, the Chicagos of America as MLK distilled into a real life narrative to focus, focus and bring explicitly and implicitly onto the new TV screens of America.
Ferguson another Ulster name.
DuVernay composes the bridge scenes when the central plank of the film which is the march to set out from Selma to the town of Montgomery (I wonder now about the white settlers from Ulster? erstwhile fundamentalists?) which has as it’s first physical obstacle the Edmund Pettus Bridge. This happened in 1965. It’s was a scene of passive activism meeting with violence unleashed under the authority of Alabama’s Wallace and with the probable blessing of US President Johnson.
Neither of who wanted any power to reach the hands of ordinary people bearing in mind the Black majority in States of the South.

Such was their land theft and exploitation of white and black workers the whole edifice of control was part of an even broader picture of modern empire.

The scenes on the bridge are pivotal and while large parts of America are adjusting to difference, that it was there to stay in many immigrants from Europe’s eyes, it is was entirely different for the Native American and those whose own history was the relatively young slave nations and continued exploitation throughout America.

DuVernay delivers vividly the issue through pieces of dialogue between for example, Malcolm X played Nigel Thatch and Coretta with Carmen Ejogo understanding only too well how personally high the stakes are set against them both.

There is also the civil rights movement, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee whose players have the raw anger of youth and played out by the respective actors superbly.

On March 7th, “Bloody Sunday,” is the centrality.

Lorraine Toussaint as Amelia Boynton,is brutalised on the march, likewise Tessa Thompson as Diane Nash.
Bloody Sunday and the Courts
In the Courthouse Martin Sheen as presiding Judge has a small role and this must have been another tilt at Hollywood’s finest remaining in the room under the invasion of outsider acting.

I noticed and it is not a spoiler, that as well as being a continuity key, DuVernay has a black and white girl on the central steps of the Court staircase conversing leisurely as the case is awaited, adjudicated and discharged.

It is a bit of sisterhood over the male violence which is at the fearful root of the hatred.

Conclusion. ####4

This is a very pivotal film for America to be making as it will be soon bro into the habit of commemorating and making sense of these times after and amid conflicts fought since elsewhere.

The film is a great accomplishment regardless of any caveats, Americans and Foreigners bring to it. It is smoothly achieved without being overwrought. Without rancour it repeats sometimes in the frame of the old footage of TV. Black and white footage without the sight of blood that it had excess of and it is for people like Oprah to get this story told over and over in countless ways. The witness of the United States of America needs is of campus, State museums right in the heartlands telling each part of the story from wherever it reveals the truth of the divisions. The inter gyration of communities need united in principles and seem through the mirror of History.

Despite misgivings on casting and they are in my mind intentionally non-committal moves of intent, the lack of addressing the Politics in an analytical observant way by critics and commentators, it delivers a many vectored and visually impressive and solid story of Historical narrative handheld with excellence by writer, director and the vast bulk of the cast.

It is a wonderous achievement – the achievement of Martin Luther King that is brought In no small part alive and it should not be the only vehicle to explore and inhibit more adventurous filmmaking in looking into the mirror of America. US Cinema should be up for it having so long relied on false narrative, escapism, fantasy for its Cinematic canon.

Less fantasy please America, more of this opinion shaping medium.

The USA needs this continued analysis and the connections run back in many directions, slavery, imperialism, religious division, to the dislodged from the little Island of Ireland for one. Further as well to the more worrying presently pressing, fore bearers of Jewish diaspora from Europe whose religion is like Middle East politics entwined in the industrialisation of War and all have completely undermined their futures in failures to contend with content of the Bible. The commandment not to kill a fundamental evidence of blind faith.

John Graham

4 February 2015

Go see it at QFT from
Friday 6th February to Thursday 16th February 2015

“Glory,” a song by Common and John Legend ends the film.

The Gerard Conlon Memorial Lecture 2015 Democratic Bankruptcy by Michael Mansfield

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The Gerard Conlon Memorial Lecture 2015
Beginning with the dedication to Gerry Conlon in whose memory we were gathered for the inaugural Lecture in keeping with Gerry’s short and troubled journey through life Michael Mansfield summoned up the Collectivism in St Mary’s College on the fortieth anniversary, 23 January 2015 of Guiseppe Conlons death. His death in prison not going unnoticed under this Lectures range.
Election Year 2015
Michael Mansfield for so many years has seen the broad and the minutiae of the Law and State across the planet operate as he advocated on the rights of people where others declined thus discovering and reciting for us now the true connective tissue with which mankind has found itself bound into. This collectivism being manifest throughout a varied and wide ranging career.

A letter formed the central tenent of the lecture and it was written by Gerard Conlon. It was on the subject of Gerry Conlon’s expressed concerns on the kind of Democracy deficits Michael Mansfield takes up as Democratic Bankruptcy.

That letter appeared from the Gerry Conlon’s archive courtesy of Garth Pierce’s obtained and permitted publication of it on 24 December 2014.

It was a letter to Barack Obama, that well known ancient recidivist Irishman, whose continued practice of using drones to inflict a death trail in War zones outside the parameters of humanism and the false imprisonment of prisoners of difference within Guantanamo Bay haunts the world today

Describing in the letter the conditions of his capture, rendition, torture, beatings, interrogation, imprisonment and eventual stitch up by the British Intelligent Forces Gerard Conlon drew stark comparison with his own journey. Again it is forces operating alongside and directing the security forces, the police and army intelligence ensuring, ensured justice and the value of human life to be consigned to worthlessness rhetoric for the mss to consume in their name.

Just as that the Guildford Four faced, the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay whose journal dairies are currently continuing to be produced in The Guardian faced and had the strength to take expose hypocrisy to the world.

Against the British Sovereignty Establishment, the corrupt vested interests and the manifestly corrupt and contagiously violent and constantly morally and ethically bankrupt regimes of state and new fledgling terrorist anarchists Gerry Conlon sought alongside the elucide and clear thinking Mansfield to explain the workings from the Belly of the Beast, the extraordinary injustice visited upon him and that carried on in a form after release which tormented both him and Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six, fellow framed prisoner – both entwined against their will in the same bind.

The mental bind and grip of innocence was a bodily interference as well as a mental colossus for which they could not agree on a word to describe the inner ‘guilt’ felt – for bringing the burden of innocence spent under guilt in the years across their families lives inside and outsiderison.

Paddy Hill described that. The strap inside his head I imagined keeping to himself for scrutiny alone the facts, the experience, the ongoing.

Most of us could not even conceive of the original violation of justice for it seems so possible but inconceivably in ours experience.
These servants of corruption who treat others the way they were and many continue to do, were born to the same humanity as us all.
How could they take so wrongfully, into their hands and minds,the lives of innocent people and produce the failures God warns us against?

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Michael Mansfield continued to read this letter. To take us into the field of universal commonality. The letter which Gerry never received a reply to.

The support for the Guantanamo prisoners was fierce and fulsome.
It contained vision, experience taught and learnt not by being suppressed by the anti-Christ of the beast that is the the perpetrator of violence, the facilitator who knows far less and is far greater the administer of evil than the fledgling defender who confronts evil.

There was an insular atrophied scattering of Politicians in the room who when Michael Mansfield continued to criticise the GB government, repeatedly refering to a lack of actual close insight to Northern Ireland he made the point clearly enough to suggest that he despised the duplicity of Politicians.

He estimates 200 of the Houses of Parliament MP’s have interests in companies they continually vote on affairs affecting them. “Conflicts of interest we used to call them” he said.
He bought up the thing most people have hitherto been outlay unaware of – the TTIP deal being fostered by Global corporations giving them globally the Power to sue Governments – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
It is being hammered out – (post recent years Bildenberg no doubt) between US and EU handshakes. http://www.38DEGREES.ORG.UK/TTIP.

Our own Politicians rely on the trade as back offices lackeys and any industrialists worth their salt here who are true innovators and inverters will themselves find a gorilla in the room in form of the trade conflicts and resulting wars, yes wars are founded on a lot less than mere material access, thus caring forward in our name corporations largesse over people’s government. Sinn Fein are against it but other parties here are not yet coming clean with their position.

The parties here, Michael Mansfield for politeness sake, were kept onside without failing to bring to our attention issues they decline to engage on.
The sectarianism is abundant and clear as the mantra driving politics here and he has never made any bones about it being our downfall.
In the midst of him telling us things politically, the absences of some and the presence of others here at this lecture signified a great deal.
The hangers on to the Gerard Conlon legacy of course were there.
The quest for truth and justice – jolly god that is that is. Let’s rally.

While various people from the floor, during questions, illustrated on behalf of Michael Mansfield you might say, providing his arguments, it was a stream of stories of the type brought by Gerry Conlon’s revised for a different age. Now. Stories as well telling us that everyone knew – speaking again clearly to us shockingly the falsehoods of the peace, the failure of inquiry and investigation.

The returning Advice from Michael Mansfield was his own mantra to never give up. Your own humanity is of nothing compared to the pursuit of goodness abiding in us all and clearly the given gift of our lives and duration on earth forever enhanced by the love of ones neighbour.
Gerry Comlon a sought to his dying breath to speak up for the Ilene’s and the oppressed and the immensity of what he did was not lost amidst this gathering.

New Movements
The judiciary have been slain here in their pursuit of justice, something which Michael Mansfield said concerns him greatly.
The judiciary are the participating Legal voices. Some are advocates others judges and many aredily living floes to extermination. In some countries.
The public are still setting the agenda. Now the practice of using oral and written confessions has nearly entirely been removed due to the well known abuses. The movement has been to take back their lives.
As Martin Luther King said “Our paradigm is Justice.”

The Governments are inured from harm. They have representatives.
The MPs are succour only and e avoidance of damage is a career attribute often practiced by distance.

To create an alternative system out with the lack of agreement for a Supreme Court etc, to not involve with the London Treaty, is to come out from under these ludicrous English idiosyncrasies which is there for a tiny aloud out working which Hieda exposed we are protected from (either or is the fascism) 99% of adherence challenged is turned back to he state as a winning strident stupidity of the actual existence of it.
Sewell bridge is another strand for the Human Bill of Rights privacy is key and Article 3 prisoner detention wrongs exist.

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That was not something given any detail but it is on the same hinge Human Rights Legislation swings by.
One element made reference to by Michael Mansfield was the recent Oxfam highlighting of Global Poor and Global Wealth.
The often recited polemic of the 1% having 50% of the Worlds wealth includes most Europeans earning over £22,000 with their own accumulated or inherited wealth. It is a strange statistic. Hat is because it is wrong.

Who is in the one percent? Well it turns out are 2.9 million in the UK alone
which is twice that in China and less than France. To have £800,000 gets an entry. So a house valued at a million with £800,000 paid off gets the individual in although a married couple etc. Well there is a base point this illustrates where it came from (Credit Suisse) and it remains a valid statement showing how advanced the Western Economy is.

The next statistic which was equally broadcast able – some are not as they contain secret accumulations – was some 80 people hold as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion on the planet. Then there is the wealth gap and that for example 400 million live in abject poverty in India.
Have we figured out the accumulated billions Vladimir Putin has stockpiled and where it is deposited?

Concealment and Maxellisation
Several challenges to suppression of Government initiated inquiry were highlighted. Chief among these was the continual blockage of the Chilcot inquiry up to the commissioning of and subsequent to a raft of discovery.
Since evidence as accumulated, material gathered and some conclusions reached, chief among these the fact it was an unlawful war on Iraq. The obfuscation is only part of the Blair/Bush/Rumsfeld/Powell/Straw axis of evil taking the US and UK into a conflict now summoning reigns of terrorist driven anew, in reaction to the support for evil through manufactured conflict.

Into the Global conflict that belongs to that confined for centuries in its own pasture, comes the Middle East. The countries of Iran and Saudi Arabia which has spread into the adjoining countries dismantling thousands of years of keeping your enemy close. The attacks now on other religions have almost completed the destruction of other faiths.
Hate crime faith based is the clear basis of all the actions once perceived wholly Nationhood based, in which joint ethnicities had – not condoned but stood aside as ‘factions’ took up what was ‘justified’ as national cause.

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There is a hate at ever point of the Inquiry Process, I suggest, Mochael Mansfield has been involved in and continues to be involved in.

Take The Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
Seville conducted it. Michael Mansfield represented the unleashing of hate enraged Scottish Regimental and Government licensed murder.
The outcome though by some has been tarnished was a crucial turning point for many of the families with justice remaining incomplete.
The spiritual relief and achievement many of us were unable to be witness to but mere viewers seeing signals from the Guildhall on the carefully managed day, the almost simultaneous oral statement in the Commons put away anxieties without justice visible.
Catholics killed. Hate crime.
No one convicted. Loss of life.
The Chilcot Inquiry.
Censure exists. A Tony Blair and George Bush motive of hate, whether thought of in those terms but directing War, Violence at and directly upon and towards a perceived threat from a race and enclave wholly Muslim, took their respective Countries under their lying to their own Parliament’s threshold and beyond into a War. No second resolution.
In days were seen Shock and Awe.
No one convicted. Loss of life.
The Lawrence Inquiry. The cover-up of racial motivated murder was and still is a corrupted process. Being left to Noreen and Tony Lawrence to fight.
Only two people were ever convicted. Loss of life.
The Guildford Four Inquiry. Only when Gareth Pierce uncovered the British Government British Intellegence Force integral and directing the willing Police Force to frame four Catholics and the perceived antithesis of the British as conspiratorial Irish people, did exposure of the hatred of
Catholic Irish by the British in allowing any chosen person to fit a crime by hate. Stereotypical hate.
No one convicted either for the Bombing or conspiracy of cover-up.
Loss of life.
The Marchioness and Hillsborough Inquiries involved Police and State cover- up on behalf of the operators.
No one convicted. Loss of life.
These were not hate crimes but the facts presented by the operators concealed the facts requiring the material to be gathered, and in the case of Hillborough was only recently to reach a conclusion but without presently any convictions. The Marchioness was mowed down by a ship turning and 50 people died with one lookout for the boat hit.

Occupy and the Collective
Democratic hearings have emerged. The Peoples Tribunal – Commissions of Inquiry that being a lot like the Peace Foundation founded by among others Bertrand Russell. The Peace Foundation. Now there are Peoples Tribunals on Palestine, the NHS, Iran.
Michael Mansfield held up the Gerard Conlon strength of purpose inherent in him and contended it to exist in us. Whether you have been a part or part from (a lot has gone on on this road was the – well I gulped at the bombast from the Politician who came up with that separateness) the contamination of the Political Process and segregation to suit those ends Michael Mansfield noted in his view a change. All to slow from the sixties, seventies, etc,. Where a collectivism was in tandem.
He cited examples of Peoples Inquiry which he has been a part of and continues with. The Onion as he describes it unravels. The capacity resources multiply and the functions have been gathered by Ed Miller at MIT whose observation shows clearly we cannot nor do multi-task and instead Michael Mansfield has, in my mind, found the necessity for a Public Collectivism to arrange for us importance and direct mental and active focus. Occupy, Pussy Riot took up the important issues and prioritized and put it up on a frame each of us in the Public acknowledge.

Where we need to attend also is the ‘Molly?’ Collusion of the MP’s and the a Press. To come at that is to see the matters the Public are directed towards and away from are those salient issues we need pay attention to.
I believe it is the example of people’s inability to discern information to make decisions affecting their one lives. Being lead in certain directions.

The di-nemesis of the people it’s opposite attribute is an agent or act of retribution or punishment.

We are finding ways of taking individual causes commonly bound into a Public Collective framework.

Michael Mansfield has observed many things in other peoples lives and made them understand them beyond their experience.
As well as evaluating the source of the harm anyone has been subject to or in the loss of life the location of the responsibility causing their loss he resurrects this and them into the creative mind which is able to see.
Witness is now as well as now which has a current evaluative outcome if we chose and very often do take up. We are able to construct for the better understanding and advance of mankind; often that it cannot be repeated.

Gerard Conlon has personified all our life’s travails writ large in the midst of the dilution of ancient principles.

Imagine a time when the neurology and the minds capacity has returned, it won’t be found forward (the essay Religion: Something New) as our recurrent themes and lives forever indicate.

That return to forever to sub-edit The Mahivishnu Orchestra – many will never have heard them and I reject the impulse to take out this spontaneous connection here made will in my view be very dependant in how we approach the most important two things facing us.
The Population Optimum.
The Human Diet.

Both the movement to arrive at an optimum Human Population which is achievable with very simple and very small behaviour changes together with a reversal of diet and towards the plant based diet which the China Study evidences as our own conditioning resolution and itself the breakthrough required away from medical pharma dependency is paramount.

Thank you to the organisors of The Inagural The Gerard Conlon Memorial Lecture 2015 by Michael Mansfield.

Apologies for the concentration on the main central lecture of Michael Mansfield, to Paddy Hill whose own contribution told mostly unrepeatable in polite company

To in the background The Church of Saint Peters Falls Road who cared so long and so lastingly for the Conlon family in their lives and continued journey. Cherish also the possibility the wishes for Religious unity around our one Creator across this world within all worlds.

Canon Dougan. Morning service on 26 January 2015 chose these hymns.

‘To the one who is Love Divine, love is excelling.’

‘Be my Guardian and my guide.’

John Graham

26 January 2015

Belfast