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Amazing Grace
Our Rating
3½ Stars - Good
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Mpaa Rating
PG (for thematic material involving slavery and some mild language)
Genre
Directed By
Bertram van Munster
Run Time
44 minutes
Cast
Phil Keoghan, Brian Kleinschmidt, Ericka Dunlap, Mika Combs
Theatre Release
December 06, 2009 by Samuel Goldwyn/ Roadside Attractions

Similar to Chariots of Fire and Shadowlands in tone, Amazing Grace balances faith and filmmaking in a historical drama that depicts an ordinary Christian doing extraordinary things because of his beliefs.

For those unfamiliar with the lead character, William Wilberforce was elected to British Parliament in the late 18th century at the age of 21. Some years after that, he underwent an experience that brought him back to the Christian faith—to the point where he was prepared to leave politics behind to fully devote his life to God as a clergyman or monk. His friend from college (and future Prime Minister) William Pitt tries to convince Wilberforce to stay in Parliament because he's such a gifted orator, as seen in several debates on the floor. Pitt asks, "Will you use your beautiful voice to praise the Lord or change the world?"

To quote another character in the film, "We suggest you can do both."

The principled Wilberforce makes it clear early on that he is privately opposed to Britain's thriving slave trade, and several prominent abolitionists of the era (Thomas Clarkson, Olaudah Equiano) do their best to gain his support. In this film, it is John Newton—a former slave ship captain and the author of the hymn "Amazing Grace"—that ultimately convinces his friend Wilberforce to take up the cause for reasons both moral and spiritual.

And so he does, but at what cost? The British abolitionists become the world's most vocal opponents to slavery, causing Wilberforce to lose popularity with many of his countrymen and colleagues. Some even label him a seditionist—a serious accusation at the time with the newly established United States, an imminent French Revolution, and a mentally ill King George ruling England. ...

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