Screened as part of NZIFF 2004
Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, the great orator and civil rights activist, inspired polar extremes of devotion and loathing during his lifetime. By 1986 the majority of Americans recognised his significance, and President Reagan declared a federal holiday in his honour. This absorbing and moving documentary from the ‘American Experience’ series draws on copious archival footage, eyewitness accounts and contemporary interviews. The filmmakers examine the myth and elucidate his pivotal role in the momentous events of the five years from the ‘I have a dream’ speech in 1963, until his assassination in Memphis in 1968. The exploration of the choices that faced King, and the volatile political and social environment in which he attempted, by peaceful means, to effect huge social change, is thorough, revealing and all too pertinent 35 years on.
“Even viewers who lived during the 1963–68 period covered in Citizen King may find their assumptions challenged and misconceptions corrected by this impressively researched, cogently structured and altogether illuminating account.” — Joe Leydon, Variety