23rd July, 2007
Amazing Grace (PG)
In A Word:
REVEALING THE TRUTH: William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) opens up the eyes of high society to the horrors of slavery aboard the slave ship Madagascar.
"Amazing Grace is an inspiring look at Wilberforce’s life and his drive to bring about an end to the injustice of slavery and it shows clearly the cost of his call both to himself and to those around him."
Context is probably everything when watching a film like Amazing Grace. While some have derided the biopic of abolitionist 18th century William Wilberforce as lacking in spark, for those open to it, this is a movie which serves to underline the way in which God can work through the life of one person to change the world.
Released to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the passing in the British Parliament of the act to abolish the slave trade, Amazing Grace is an inspiring look at Wilberforce’s life and his drive to bring about an end to the injustice of slavery and it shows clearly the cost of his call both to himself and to those around him.
Beautifully detailed, the Michael Apted-directed film successfully brings to life the story of Wilberforce’s life and his personal struggles and is able to mesh this well with the broader social issues of the time.
Ioan Gruffudd (perhaps best known as Horatio Hornblower and, more latterly, as Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four) brings an intensity to the character of Wilberforce and is ably supported by a cast including Benedict Cumberbatch (who plays Wilberforce’s college friend and later Prime Minister of Britain, William Pitt), Albert Finney (who plays Wilberforce’s mentor, the former slave runner-cum-preacher and hymnist John Newton) and Romola Garai (who plays Wilberforce’s love interest Barbara Spooner).
Others worthy of mention include Michael Gambon (who plays Wilberforce’s steadfast supporter, the ever so wily Lord Charles Fox) and Rufus Sewell (who plays the abolitionist Thomas Clarkson).
The story starts with the Yorkshire MP an almost broken man. After years of trying to get the British Parliament to pass his anti-slavery bill, Wilberforce is suffering from health problems and tormented by his failure to stop such a barbarous trade.
Thanks to some caring friends, he’s introduced to - or rather, set up with - local beauty Barbara Spooner and, after a rocky start, finds her a like mind. Wilberforce’s story is then told partly in flashback as he brings her up to date on the events of his life before the tale strides off from that point towards its climatic finale.
Amazing Grace does amazingly well in keeping the suspense of the movie alive (after all, we all know the outcome, don’t we?) but it is aided in this regard by the fact that while many of us are aware that Wilberforce was key in passing the anti-slavery bill, the detail of how it came about is less well known.
There is no doubt that Amazing Grace won’t appeal to all - this is no action-adventure, although there are lighter moments. But for those who can take the time to watch a serious film about how our lives can serve a higher purpose, it will prove most rewarding.
Amazing Grace is released nationally on July 26.
FOR MORE ON WILLIAM WILBERFORCE
AND THE ABOLITIONIST MOVEMENT:
The Interview: DAVID ADAMS speaks with modern-day
anti-slavery advocate, David Batstone... |
Saints of Past Ages: TONY TOWNSEND takes a look at the
life of William Wilberforce... |
Saints of Past Ages: PETER RAHME takes a look at the
life of John Newton... |
Web: DAVID ADAMS takes a look at the
Amazing Change website...
THE SIGHT ON THE SCREEN ARCHIVES FOR MORE ON FILMS...