Why Selma Got It Right

January 12, 2015 3:42 PM

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There is much hoopla over Ava DuVernay's buzzed-about film Selma regarding historical "inaccuracies" in the portrayal of President Johnson. In a TIME magazine article, David Kaiser takes us through a narrative presupposing the president's intentions, while admitting, "LBJ never let anyone know what he planned to do until it was absolutely necessary." This seems an admission that the dramatized conversations in Selma that have become the subject of this debate are not out of place and are therefore free territory for the imaginations of a gifted filmmaker like DuVernay.

Let's contrast Spielberg's Lincoln to DuVernay's Selma. Many articles were written about Lincoln, asserting that "the dramatic core is accurate", despite some fictionalization. Spielberg himself stated, "one of the jobs of art is to go to the impossible places that history must avoid." And that it i...

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