115 of 118 people found the following review helpful
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.
102 of 106 people found the following review helpful
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.
155 of 164 people found the following review helpful
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
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
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.
54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
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.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 13 September 2007
A truly magnificent film - the best of my Amazon rentals so far! Fantastic script which doesn't miss a beat, inspired casting, a simply glorious experience overall. Director Michael Apted said that he didn't want a "chocolate box cover" of a movie, and boy, does he get it right! The highlight for me was the unexpected flashes of humour throughout in what could have been a very dull and reverential film. A triumph!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2011
I read all the very good reviews in various papers/magazines, and decided to order it from amazon, because of the wonderful offer. The film was excellent,very moving, not the usual type of film I would have normally thought about, let alone order. I thoroughly recommend it. I will watch it again and still will find it a wonderful film to watch, they should show this in schools instead of just about the history of slavery, it brings it more to life and understandable.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 2010
This film brings vividly to life the main abolitionists: Ioan Gruffudd is a convincing Wilberforce - self-doubting, prone to bouts of illness, yet ultimately sure of his goal; Albert Finney plays tellingly the tortured John Newton, who as a young man worked on slave ships and spent the rest of his life haunted by '20,000 voices'. He later became vicar of St Mary Woolnoth in the city of London - the church with his plaque is still there by Mansion House - and devoted his life to the abolitionist cause, famously penning 'Amazing Grace'. Rufus Sewell portrays Thomas Clarkson as a mild, rather British kind of revolutionary: idealistic and eccentric. (This seems right: Clarkson became a convert to the cause after writing on the subject for a Cambridge University essay competition...) Youssou N'Dour has great screen presence and dignity as the ex-slave abolitionist Olaudah Equiano. Together, and backed by Prime Minister William Pitt, played with style and self-irony by Benedict Cumberbatch, this group shows how the good guys sometimes even win in politics. They were a group motivated by sheer humanity and (in most cases Christian) compassion that gently moved a whole nation which might not have heeded more stridently impassioned voices. That, certainly is the tack taken here, and it really has the ring of truth. I, like most people, I imagine, was expecting a much angrier film with far more from the victim's appalling perspective. Instead we encounter a group working to sway the sedate, English middle-class, where part of the key is to make abolitionism 'fashionable'. This really has the ring of truth. Most Britons never went near a slave ship. A clever and original film.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
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.