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  Publicity Stills of "Amazing Grace"
(Courtesy from Shaw)

Genre: Drama/History
Director: Michael Apted
Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Albert Finney, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Gambon, Romola Garai, Rufus Sewell, Ciaran Hinds, Youssou N'Dour, Toby Jones, Stephen Campbell Moore
RunTime: 1 hr 51 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: PG
Official Website: www.amazinggracemovie.com

Opening Day: 24 May 2007


From acclaimed director Michael Apted ("The World is Not Enough," "Coal Miner's Daughter") comes "Amazing Grace," a moving historical epic about the life of antislavery pioneer William Wilberforce. "Amazing Grace" follows Wilberforce's career through his 20's and 30's, as he and his fellow humanitarians make the issue of slavery a talking point, not only in political circles, but also throughout the country. They wage the first modern political campaign, using petitions, boycotts, mass meetings and even badges with slogans to take their message to the country at large.

Movie Review:

There’s something noble but absent about Michael Apted’s historical biography set in the late 18th Century Britain. “Amazing Grace”, a filmic beacon of sound Christian values is told through a familiar and conveniently transpicuous canvas of right and wrong with good and evil being played out by easily discernable white and black hats. Its larger than life premise, prefixed with a true story tips its hat to every humanitarian unthankfully slogging for long hours to change the status quo.

As a history lesson that regards the antislavery movement fought for by political firebrand William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd), it is a reasonable adaptation of the facts with minimal flourishes. Recounting the pioneering efforts Wilberforce first led as a youthful, fresh-faced member in the House of Commons at a tender age of 21, the film moves on to his failures and the continued efforts to abolish the slave trade right into his weary, almost spent 30s. Apted’s hagiographic gaze of admiration on Wilberforce borders on berthing the man sainthood, an attribute that makes the film feel more cinematic than it already is. But it is this very attribute that Apted rolls on with full steam ahead that makes the character an unyielding force of good with a singular imperative in a world that is ready to abandon the ideals he fervently extols.

The film is undeniably cluttered with religious imagery and spiritual rhetoric and it doesn’t hide them. Its very nature of ascending the moral high ground is Apted’s tribute to Wilberforce and refuses to address the unflattering notion that his need for change consumed him for the worst and that his political will has been said to have expedited the old British Empire’s decline.

Perhaps its artlessness is cause for its success. While pretentious musings on contemporary slavery and Black People being exploited by the White Man have been filmed primarily to make an impression on audience’s consciousness, most of them and in particular the recent “Blood Diamond”, has shown that it can moralise and offend at the same time by resorting to hysterics and reformed antiheroes to get its point across. Thank God for Hollywood archetypes like William Wilberforce, for mainly sticking it to the stiff upper-lipped patricians in large, circular venues so that claps ring louder and longer.

Movie Rating:

(A sermonising history lesson that speaks to our convictions)

Review by Justin Deimen


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