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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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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. Everyone in the cast does a great job. Obviously, the movie is mostly series, but a few comic moments help lighten the mood. They really took me by surprise and made me laugh out loud.

Mainly through words, this movie depicts the harsh realities that were the slave trade. Frankly, this made the horror all the more real to me. There are two uses of the "n" word. They are jarring. While historically accurate, I think their use was intended to jar us.

As I watched the story unfold, I couldn't help but notice how little has changed in politics in the last 200 years. Frankly, this gave me hope that some of the issues of today will eventually be resolved despite how it looks from year to year.

This is an inspiring movie. We need more men like William Wilberforce today who will fight, not because it is politically expedient, but because it is right.
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VINE VOICEon 9 October 2007
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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VINE VOICEon 24 May 2007
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.

The film was both moving and inspirational. In this era of the quick fix, it reminded us, as do the lives of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu,of the importance of never giving up in the fight for a more just and humane world. Evil prospers when good men and women do nothing -but we need to do it again and again and again. There are more slaves in the world today than there were at the time of abolition and I trust this film will inspire another generation to continue the struggle.For those who want a more politically correct revisionist view of history and who cry paternalism, it needs to be emphasised that Wilberforce and his supporters took on the might of the political and economic establishment of the day and won. Yes he was a compassionate man but he was also a great champion of justice and justice above all requires that we see those who we are trying to help as equals.This is an outstanding piece of film making that does justice to the achievement of Wilberforce and his associates
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VINE VOICEon 10 August 2007
I remember seeing Schindler's List at Bournemouth and the audience standing ovation and clappping, the cheering of the last few minutes as A Few Good Men and this comes in the same collection.

With a rousing main theme tune Amazing Grace, fantastic acting from everyone including Sewell,Gruffudd,Cumberbatch,Finney, the incredible Ciaran Hinds of ROME and the always magnificent Gambon. This film is nothing short of incredible.

Starting with Gruffurd who plays William Wilberforce going out to bring the bills of slave trade abolition to court and being defeated many a time, to his life involving his father who not only wrote Amazing Grace but sailed a slave ship who had turned to god the story never loses its way. The interesting history involving William Pitt who becomes graver and graver ill adds to the emotion and political intrigue

The main part of the film tends to be in court and the nothing short of brilliant verbal shots between Gruffurd and Hinds. The last parry being so tense that you really feel as though you are in the court with them and the result makes you want to punch the air.

Now comes the one fault in that it ends too soon, I would like to have seen him become old and fight the other bills that Wilberforce was involved in bringing ahead.

IN SHORT FABULOUS. DEFINITELY ONE OF MY TOP 10 FILMS ALREADY AND AS IMPORTANT AS SCHINDLER'S LIST AND ROOTS.
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on 12 January 2008
Amazing Grace is an excellent showing about an historical triumph accomplished through the heroics act of a political activist and religious campaigner William Wilberford. He launched a large campaign, which attracted wide support from other activists. In 1807, slave trade was finally abolished thanks to the heroics deeds and the continued campaigning that William Wilberford and other activist started. Amazing Grace highlights the issue of slavery. The movie provides an accurate and vivid picture to the viewer regarding the brutality of slavery practices and the actions pursued to abolish slavery.

It should be appreciated he is one the true heroes to emerge in history, through the noble deeds in humanity and always fighting for the true Christian cause. He never gave up despite earlier setbacks in achieving a key bill in parliament. This was one of the historical and heroics triumphs that we should be proud to treasure. The main aspect highlighted in the movie is the parlimentary procedures.

The historical representation of the movie is accurately sketched, with the periodic costumes, buildings, ships and general atmosphere within the period. The casting for the movie is excellent, with a line up high calibre actors/actresses in the form Albert Finney, Ioan Gruffudd and Michael Gambon. The performance provided, adds a strong sense of credibility to the characters featured in the movie and really enhances the realism of historical period.

Amazing Grace is an interesting movie to watch and to really appreciate the importance of a historical event which raised awareness of injustice in humanity. It is a pivotal stage in history that was much desired during the time. This genre of movie is well suited to anyone who expresses a strong interest in historical and epic movies.
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on 24 September 2007
I had been looking forward to seeing this ever since the film came out but I regret to say I was disappointed. Ioan Gruffudd was better than I expected as Wilberforce. My beef is with Michael Apted the director for giving such a blatantly unhistorical drama. I do not have time to list the errors but the two most blatant ones are to do with John Newton. The present tune we sing to Amazing Grace was unknown in England at that time so Wilberforce would never have sung it. Newton was not a monk plagued by guilt for being a slave captain. He was a vicar who knew God's grace and forgiveness, hence the hymn. Right from the start when a screen caption told us the British Empire was built on the back of slaves one sensed that present day (erroneous) judgment may be evident. Wilberforce was not bothered by his addiction to opium. It was the one analgesic available and he controlled, not increased, his dosage throughout his life. I do though doubt that he would have been alone with an unmarried lady, unchaperoned through the night. The production is so inaccurate I thought that the director must be American, but no, to our shame he is British, portraying a royal duke in the House of Commons, Fox erroneously ennobled and still there to give the econium on Wilberforce in the hour of triumph though Fox died before 1807.

It was not merely the historical inaccuracy that disappointed me. The flash backs were confusing and took away from the whirlwind nature of Wilberforce's courtship. I found the whole thing rather dull and not a patch on say, Chariots of Fire for an inspirational Christian theme. It was sympathetically done but could have been so much better. Perhaps viewer's who do not know the real story will be more impressed.
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on 22 May 2010
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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on 30 August 2007
S. Bennett, who is entitled to his/her view, compares Amazing Grace with The Bourne Ultimatum. Need one say more? No, but I will! S. Bennet should stick with fantasy thrillers. This film is taking a different viewpoint, it is talking about the efforts of William Wilberforce to end the slave trade. it is not trying to, directly, show the, terrible, horrors that the slaves went through. There are many stories which describe these (See "Roots" etc). This is, of course, where the film scores.

The film is, in it's own way, mortifying. It is an intelligent essay on the difficulties facing one William Wilberforce, who was light years ahead of his time and, actually, did more good than, dare I say it, Martin Luther King. Before people start complaining, you need to know that Martin Luther King is a particular hero of mine. One needs to remember that the reason that Martin Luther King was able to speak, as he did, was because of people like William Wilberforce.

So, is this a good film? Yes! The performances are excellent, even the known stars do not over-act as film-stars are inclined to. The writing is incredibly subtle. It does not seek to shock, only to inform. It is in this giving of information that we receive the shock. It is not only a must-see film, it is an intelligent, informative must-see film.
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on 27 September 2007
Amazing Grace is more than your average costume drama, it takes you into the world of the late 18th Century Britian and brings the tireless campaign of the abolition of the slave trade of William Wilberforce's to life. This film educates as well as inspires the belief that one person, with an unlimated amount of will power, and equally devoted friends, CAN change the world. Willerforce got his message across the nation without the luxary of the www, or a mobile phone. In this day and age, this film should inspire us to realise we can achieve anything in the name of a good cause if we put our minds to it.
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on 26 February 2016
I get the impression that Wilberforce was a more complicated man that he appears here but nevertheless this film portrays the wracking, endless battle he embarked upon to end the slave trade.
Although, this is very much an historical example of the need for careful bill writing as the 1807 act abolished the trade but did not grant emancipation to slaves. The emancipation act was eventually passed just before Wilberforce's death in 1833. I would love to see a film about how the abolitionists dealt with the intervening years in which they had to so often compromise their principles on the sanctity and value of human life to negotiate compensation to the slavers.
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