“From the makers of Ray, ‘Amazing Grace’ tells the inspiring story of William Wilberforce and his passion and perseverance to pass a law ending the slave trade in the late 18th century. Several friends, including Wilberforce’s minister, a reformed slave ship captain who penned the beloved hymn Amazing Grace, urge him to see the cause through.”
“Amazing Grace” is rated PG for thematic material involving slavery, and some mild language.
Ioan Gruffudd delivers an excellent performance as William Wilberforce. He portrays the man from his youth up until his death at an older age. Gruffudd is passionate, earnest, and likable in his role. He even gets a little bit of romance thrown into the mix. He’s supported by an excellent cast that includes Albert Finney as John Newton, Michael Gambon as Lord Charles Fox, and Rufus Sewell as Thomas Clarkson.
One thing I liked about “Amazing Grace” was the political twist that took place at the end. Wilberforce and his allies take British hatred for the French and use it to secretly get them to agree to a new law that will end up wiping out 80% of the slave trade. It was a great example of taking the convoluted political process and making it work for good. “Amazing Grace” also features fantastic sets, impressive costumes, and a memorable score.
I did have a couple of minor gripes with this film. It jumps around in time with little warning and it’s hard to tell when in the timeline everything is taking place. Your only clue to the time in the story is the color of Gruffudd’s hair. My other minor gripe was that when the characters sing “Amazing Grace,” it is not the version that was sung at the time. They sing the modern version of it. For a historical film, that’s a big error.
I’d recommend “Amazing Grace” to anyone that likes period films, Ioan Gruffudd fans, or anyone that has an interest in the abolishment of slavery.
There aren’t many bonus features on this DVD. You’ll find your standard commentary and a “making of” featurette. There is also a tour of the Underground Railroad museum, but this seems out of place since the film covered more of Britain’s role in slavery. Rounding out the bonus features is a series of discussion and study guides for the DVD ROM.