19 March 2007

Amazing Grace: The Movie

A few thoughts on Amazing Grace: The Movie, after taking in the flick this past weekend.

It's the story of William Wilberforce, the 18th century evangelist, and his campaign to end the slave trade. Also featured is John Newton's authoring of the famous hymn from which the film takes it's title. I heartily endorse this picture — while it's not the greatest movie ever by any stretch, it's quality fare and of great redeeming value.

Some tidbits that struck me:

  • How American centric my study of the history of slavery has been. I was vaguely familiar with the John Newton story, but I must write that William Wilberforce was unknown to me. From brief bouts of study post-film viewing, I haven't read much that differs from the film account, spare a few details that were obviously finagled for the sake of feature film presentation, certainly no more than is typical in these productions.

  • The more that things change, the more they stay the same. Just like the times of today's world, the interests of freedom and justice take a backseat when war erupts. There, and now, when fear reigns, injustice, intolerance and hate mushroom. Righteous folks are tarred and threatened, some even to the point of ruin. In Amazing Grace, it was the conflict with France that set back Wilberforce's reform movement.

  • A great job was done in tackling a topic that at the core, at least for the cinema, is a dry and boring progression of events — parliament gatherings (though the British government going-ons are much more entertaining that those here in the states), conversations with those allied to the cause, and the protagonist engaged in meditation and prayer. Yes, it was cheesed up a tad, but again, nowhere near the extent other similar production efforts on topics of this sort have carried forth.

All and all, a delightful film with a positive bent, historical and artfully done.