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Amazing Grace [DVD]

175 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Ioan Gruffudd, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon, Albert Finney, Youssou N'Dour
  • Directors: Michael Apted
  • Writers: Steven Knight
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Momentum Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: 6 Aug. 2007
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000PY50SS
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,850 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Period biopic based on the real life of British slavery abolitionist William Wilberforce. Director Michael Apted pays tribute, on the advent of the bicentennial of the abolition of slavery, with a loving biography of the man who, almost single-handedly, made it happen. Wilberforce's is a story of Herculean courage and absolute dedication to compassion - the noblest cause. The film follows Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) as a young parliamentarian in the late 1700's with socialist ideals that sit poorly with the generally older crowd in government. He does, however, make one very important and lifelong friend in parliament - future Prime Minister William Pitt (Benedict Cumberbatch). Disgusted by what he sees around him in the homes of the privileged - African slaves treated as less than human - Wilbeforce grows to be a strong proponent of ending the trade entirely. He also takes counsel in an elderly clergyman, John Newton (Albert Finney) - writer of the eponymous hymn - who advises him to stick to his guns and abolish this vile business once and for all.


In this inspirational costume drama, Michael Apted (49 Up) recounts a important period in British history. Unsurprisingly, however, his eye-opening biography of 18th century abolitionist William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) is likely to come as a revelation to many Britons. After all, despite the presence of his wife, Barbara (Romola Garai), this isn't a particularly "sexy" story, but it is a powerful one. The title comes from John Newton's hymn "Amazing Grace" ("I once was lost but now am found"). Newton (Albert Finney) was a former slaveholder, who became a clergyman and spent his days repenting. While America had John Brown, England had Wilberforce, and Newton is one of many who helped the MP to abolish slavery in the UK. The story begins towards the end of Wilberforce's mission when he's sick with colitis and addicted to laudanum. Apted continues to alternate between 1797 and 1789, when Wilberforce was fitter and more idealistic, and ends in 1807 as his efforts come to fruition.

Apted and writer Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things) do right by their hero. Unlike Amistad, however, slaves are largely off-screen, with the exception of author Equiano (Senegalese vocalist Youssou N'Dour). Amazing Grace reserves its focus for the politicians who risked their reps for the greater good, like Wilberforce and Prime Minister Pitt (an excellent Benedict Cumberbatch), and those more concerned with the income slavery provided their constituents, like Lord Tarleton (Ciarán Hinds) and the Duke of Clarence (Toby Jones). --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Mark Baker - Carstairs Considers TOP 500 REVIEWER on 13 Nov. 2007
Format: DVD
The title of this movie threw me. When I first heard about this movie, I figured it would be about John Newton who wrote the famous hymn. Instead, it tells the story of William Wilberforce, the man who led the fight to end slavery in England. The hymn of the title is William's favorite hymn and shows up a few times in the soundtrack. Still, I don't completely get why the movie got this title. Either way, that's my only complaint.

William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) was a member of Parliament during the late 1700's. He hadn't been in politics too long when God got a hold of him. While he was good at politics, he felt pulled to devote his life to God. But through the encourage of his friends, especially Prime Minister to be William Pitt (Benedict Cumberbatch) and preacher John Newton (Albert Finney), he found another calling for his life - leading the fight to end slavery in the British Empire.

This movie begins in 1797, and in a series of flashbacks, tells the story of William beginning his struggle to end slavery. In 1797, his poor health and constant defeats lead him to almost give up his calling. Will he stop or keep fighting?

William Wilberforce was a deeply committed Christian, and that influenced much of his life. But don't let that fact scare you away from this wonderful film. Christianity is an ever present part of the story, but the movie never preaches. And, unlike many Christian movies, this one is well written, acted, and produced.

I often have a hard time getting into period movies, and this one was no exception. But once I figure out who everyone was, I got lost in the story. The movie brings in the larger historical context, making it that much richer. And the costumes and sets are wonderful.
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102 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on 9 Oct. 2007
Format: DVD
I've read the other customer reviews that disparage the filmmakers for not including scenes of poverty and the horrific conditions of slaves but I feel that misses the point of what this film is about. The story that it tells is focused on the democratic parliamentary process that had to be endured before slavery could be successfully outlawed in Britain. There are a lot more scenes of parliament and of small meetings and discussions then there are of William Wilberforce's private life or anything else for that matter. Essentially Wilberforce is the character that the audience follows who introduces us to all the main political and social players of the day and the parliamentary system. He's like Wolverine in the Xmen films if you like.... maybe not.
Whilst the film has been marketed as Wilberforce's story, in really it is the story of how laws were made and changed and the real human cost of decisions in parliament. The famous quotation goes that laws and sausages are two things you should never see being made and the team behind Amazing Grace have done an incredible job to make an entertaining film about the parliamentary system.
The end result is a truly inspiring story of endurance and perseverance, which has a lot to say about the human cost of globalization and corporate greed: a very contemporary message.
It is a film that anybody from 12 to 100 will relate to and be influenced by and I recommend it.
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155 of 164 people found the following review helpful By Roger Boon VINE VOICE on 24 May 2007
Format: DVD
I would place this film amongst the most powerful I have ever seen in a long life of cinema going.The script was brilliantly tight and barely a word was wasted. The sets were very authentic and cost I heard a reported £30 million. Beyond the walls of Wilberforce's home the world of London was presented in a dark and brooding manner which reinforced the sense of the legitimised evil that Wilberforce and his associates were fighting.

The mainly ensemble British acting was of the highest order. Outstanding performances amongst others were given by Ioan Gruffudd who superbly conveyed the complexities of Wilberforce's character, Michael Gambon,Rufus Sewell,Benjamin Cumberbatch, and Romola Garai with a superb cameo of the reformed and redeemed slaver, John Newton, by Albert Finney.Balance was given by recognition of the important role of Oloudaqh Equiano played by Youssou N'Dorr.However, some historical license was taken in order to create dramatic effect.This included the Duke of Clarence sitting in the House of Commons and James Fox,one of the greatest orators and reformers of the day, giving the final paean of praise to Wilberforce when in history he had already died.

Never mix politics and religion we are told, yet the film does it successfully by embellishing the issue with a real wit and humour.The power of the film lies to a great extent in its understatement which makes it very British and it will be interesting to see how well it does in the States.The deliberately diverted visit of MP's and their consorts to the moored slave ship was a metaphor of this. The power of the misery was conveyed without it being completely thrust in the face. The final tribute to Wilberforce was another notable example of the power of the use of a few chosen words rather than many.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By derryhawk on 22 May 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This D.V.D. is excellent in so many ways. It certainly shows that there have been individuals in the World of Politics, who really wanted to serve for the good of people. William Wilberforce was indeed, a kindly, patient, and caring individual; and his story is well told here. It is well produced, and contains sadness, and joy, seriousness, and humour. My recommendation is, 'watch it', and especially if you have just been elected to serve the people. When you have watched it, obtain a copy of the book 'William Wilberforce', written by Stephen Tomkins. That helped me get a rounded out view of this unusualy benevolent politician. Oh, and remember, there is still a slave trade, so this subject is still very relevant.
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