Luther [2003]

The late, great Paul Winfield tackles the role of his career in King, an NBC miniseries originally broadcast over three nights in February 1978. Demonstrating a deeply inspired commitment to his performance as civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Winfield's voice and presence are different from King's, but he flawlessly conveys the physical and psychological essence of the man. In the six-hour telefilm written and directed by Judgment at Nuremberg OscarĀ®-winner Abby Mann, King is portrayed as a courageously devoted crusader for a just cause, whose commitment to nonviolent protest was a heavy burden he bore with miraculous poise and conviction, often at the expense of his health and well-being. Like Winfield, Cicely Tyson is uncannily convincing in her role as King's noble wife, Coretta. From King's beginnings as a Baptist minister in the early 1950s to his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968, King recreates the pivotal events and speeches of King's life in meticulous detail, and many of those who participated in these historical civil-rights milestones appear in the film (including Rosa Parks, Ramsey Clarke, Ossie Davis, and singer Tony Bennett) or served as consultants during production. And while Mann's first and only directorial effort is somewhat dry and artless, his devotion to factual detail is apparent in every frame, making King the definitive dramatization of MLK's extraordinary life and legacy. The DVD bonus features include three substantial mini-documentaries that explore King's struggle, the civil rights movement, and the making of the film, featuring extensive interviews with Ossie Davis (who plays MLK's father in the miniseries) and civil rights leader Bishop Kenneth C. Unger. --Jeff Shannon

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