Amazing Grace, a historical biography, is the story of 18th century William Wilberforce ((Ioan Gruffudd), a Member of Parliament, who battled for twenty years to abolish slavery In Britain. The son of a wealthy British merchant, he studied at Cambridge University, where he began a lasting friendship with Britain’s future prime minister, William Pitt the Younger (Benedict Cumberbatch).
The film begins with Wilberforce, a new convert to Christianity, attempting to discern whether or not he should remain in politics or do the work of God. Pitt and others convince him that he can do his best work for God by remaining in the political arena and becoming actively involved in freeing the slaves – the greatest evil of the times. Prominent characters in spurring him on in his battle are: his childhood teacher, John Newton (Albert Finney), a former slave ship captain who after experiencing a dramatic religious conversion himself, became a clergyman (and wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace”) and abolitionist Thomas Clarkson (Rufus Sewell).
A man of great faith, determination, and perseverance, Wilberforce struggles with constant political battles, the excruciating pain of a chronic illness, emotional / physical exhaustion, and is on the verge of giving up his crusade until he meets the beautiful, like-minded woman who is to become his future wife, Barbara Spooner (Romola Garai).
Directed by Michael Apted, this film is a beautiful work of art. The acting is excellent – this is one movie where the actors behave like real people instead of cartoon characters. William Wilberforce is a dashing, young man with strong principles and morals – a man of conviction and character – determined to reform his world. Barbara Spooner is a supportive, empathetic woman who is not only physically beautiful, but intelligent, and politically active, as well.
I noticed that pro-lifer Patricia Heaton is the Producer of this film, which helps me understand why it turned out the way it did and why I enjoyed it so much. It is a wonderful and inspiring model for all of us involved in the pro-life movement, as the battle for the abolition of slavery as depicted in this film mirrors the battle for the abolition of abortion in this country. It gives us hope that we, as Christians, can make the needed changes in our culture of death to transform it into a culture of life. It also makes its viewers aware that what is most needed in our society today is not only a change in our laws, but a change in the hearts of the people.
Amazing Grace is not a good movie – it is a great movie. This is the type of entertainment that you can take your children and your grandmother to watch and not feel ashamed or embarrassed. It is a movie which emphasizes character, Christian values, and yes, even virtues – something that you rarely see in Hollywood films nowadays.
I give it five ***** out of a possible 5 five stars. Excellent!
To watch trailers of this film, go here.
For information on how you can help put an end to modern day slavery, go here.
Update: I just noticed that Amy Wellborn has some interesting information on her blog about William Wilberforce and Catholicism. Thanks for the tip, Jay.