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69 of 80 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wilberforce was great...., 24 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Amazing Grace [DVD] (DVD)
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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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Mar 2009 09:49:25 GMT
You write: "The present tune we sing to Amazing Grace was unknown in England at that time so Wilberforce would never have sung it." How do you know this? You don't! Such tunes would have been sung by the slaves themselves and heard by many - especially those on ships travelling between Africa, Europe and America. Just because the earliest written record we have of this tune is about 1835, published in the U.S., does not mean it was not sung for many years before that.

Posted on 21 Mar 2009 09:09:57 GMT
Your comment "perhaps viewers who do not know the true story..." is patronising and smug.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Sep 2009 12:34:18 BDT
Tim says:
...patronising perhaps, but undoubtedly true.

Posted on 25 Apr 2012 12:19:59 BDT
Amazon-Kunde says:
It's a movie, not a documentary.

Posted on 28 Aug 2013 22:14:52 BDT
Maybe the British Empire was not built on slavery... Who labored in the Virginia plantations during the XVII, XVIII century? How did all those blacks get to North America? Besides, if you read the Penguin History of Britain you can read that the slave trade was a very profitable trade during the early middle ages. Welsh, Irish and Scot slaves were taken and sold in the Islamic Kingdoms in Spain or in the Mediterranean. In the National Portrait Gallery you can see a portrait of a well to do English Lord who made his fortune with the slave trade. Bristol and Liverpool profited enormously from human trade until the abolition. Maybe you meant the Victorian British Empire, and you are right; white workers and indians were used as slaves....

Posted on 13 Sep 2015 21:27:19 BDT
"Amazon-Kunde3 years ago
It's a movie, not a documentary."
That is true, and I would defend quite a few of the liberties taken with fact in it (Shakespeare did such things, too, to condense his dramatic plots), but it is obviously meant meant to be a realistic biopic, and the conflation of the House of Commons and the House of Lords into one house takes it into the realm of fantasy. There was absolutely no need to call Sir Banastre Tarleton, who was a baronet, not a lord, "Lord Tarleton", or to have the commoner Charles Fox called "Lord Charles Fox" not just by a butler, who might just conceivably have made such a mistake, but even in the credits. Also, Prince William (later King William IV) is shown as the Duke of Clarence in the House of Commons at a time when he was still stationed with the military in America or the West Indies, long before he blackmailed his father George III into making him a duke (and thus a member of the House of Lords) by threatening to stand for election to the House of Commons. These are just ridiculous distortions of historical reality which should have been avoided. Otherwise it works quite well as a popular drama which might bring the historical debates and developments to the notice of viewers who otherwise were not aware of them.
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