Amazing Grace – The Movie


I watched a movie this weekend that I had somehow not known about. Amazing Grace is the story of the fight to end Britain’s role in the 18th century slave trade. I do sometimes get off topic here, but this is the first time I have ever reviewed a movie! In case anyone has not seen it, I would call this one a “do not miss”.

This is the story of a young man whose life-long, passionate political and personal opposition to the slave trade almost sends him to an early grave. I had read a bit about William Wilberforce in history class, but certainly not in the depth this movie provides. The friendship of Wilberforce and William Pitt the Younger, (the youngest Prime Minister in Britain’s history), is the central theme of the movie, but there are several other roles that are “amazing” to watch.

I think the portrayed relationship of Wilberforce to John Newton, an ex slave ship captain, is one of the most moving I have seen in a movie. Albert Finney is astounding as Newton, haunted by his “20,000 ghosts”. I learned that Newton is the man who wrote the most popular hymn of all time, “Amazing Grace”. I somehow had thought it originated as a Southern U.S. or Island spiritual. It turns out that the slaves in those areas had heard of Newton’s remorse and had taken on the hymn as their own. Talk about the power of forgiveness!

There is also some great dialog in this movie. Much is very serious in nature, but some is almost entertaining. Here are just a couple examples that stuck with me:

When Wilberforce attempts to inform Pitt about the importance of being loyal to the King of England, Pitt responds: “You know as well as I do that the King is insane! He shakes hands with trees and claims he can see Germany through his telescope!”

In another scene, Prime Minister “Billy” Pitt is meeting with Lord Dundas before a showdown in The House of Commons, attempting to convince Dundas to take the side of the abolishionists against the slave traders and the plantation owners in Jamaica. Pitt figuratively threatens Dundas, saying, “Don’t force me to put a pistol to your head”. Dundas replies: “If you do, then then there will be two pistols, one from each side and perhaps if I duck, you will shoot each other.” What a great portrayal of politics in just two short sentences!

It’s nice to be reminded once in a while, whether by movie, book, or current events, that some of the heroes and conquerors of history were people of peace, rather than war. This is a movie that most will probably love, although there will likely be times, like when Lord Fox pays tribute to Wilberforce, when everyone will be wiping away the tears. Here is a YouTube window of the music video done to promote the movie. You can watch that for sort of a preview, then, if you have not already rented this DVD, get it, some popcorn, have the hankies at hand, and enjoy!

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Will Sig
1 Max Coutinho

Hey Will,

Now this is what I call a movie review *clap clap clap*! Amazing! Now I must watch the movie (I had heard it before and was curious about it, but now I must watch it)!

This is a topic that I absolutely love; I am telling you, if I lived in that time I would most definitely be an abolishionist. Those dialogues are politics at its best! Did you know that Portugal was the first country to abolish slavery? Yes, it did it because there were mulattos lighter than most whites, so Portugal decided that it wasn’t fair that lighter people would be slaves (this is a terrible reason to end slavery, but it is the history of this country *shrugging*).

Great post!



2 Will

Hi Max, and thanks! I did not know that about Portugal. I think I mentioned this in a comment once before, but I really like the way you do every post on your site is in both English and Portuguese.

Your post today is wonderful. I have always been attracted to strong women and the world is certainly a better place because of them. I overlooked one in the above review… Romola Garai portrays Barbara Spooner in the movie. If the portrayal is accurate, Spooner, who married William Wilberforce, was the main reason he never gave up the good fight!



3 skylar

Namaste’ Will I have been dying to see this movie, I have been well aware of such history since childhood and the song of course is a fav I have sung since the same. This is a well written and professional review. For someone who may not have been interested prior I hope this will help nudge them along a bit. ;0)



4 Bob

Hey Will, good review, it’s made me want to pick it up for our Friday video watch, let you know what I think of it.


5 Joe

Hello Will,

Just found your blog and you wrote this very well. I’ve seen the poster up for this movie in our projection booth for a long time and never really knew what it was about. I might have to check it out now, it seems pretty interesting.


Joes last blog post..Movies This Weekend! 8/1/08


6 Will

Thanks Joe – It is a good one. Interesting that the poster is up in the projection booth of your theater. Glad you liked the review. I am sure yo will like the movie!


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