In 1797, William Wilberforce, the great crusader for the British abolition of slavery, is taking a vacation for his health even while he is sicker at heart for his frustrated cause. However, meeting the charming Barbara Spooner, Wilberforce finds a soulmate to share the story of his struggle. With few allies such as his mentor, John Newton, a slave ship captain turned repentant priest who penned the great hymn, "Amazing Grace," Prime William Pitt, and Olaudah Equiano, the erudite former slave turned author, Wilberforce fruitlessly fights both public indifference and moneyed opposition determined to keep their exploitation safe. Nevertheless, Wilberforce finds the inspiration in newfound love to rejuvenate the fight with new ideas that would lead to a great victory for social justice. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A special screening of the film was shown in Buncrana, Co. Donegal in Ireland. This was in celebration of John Newton's link with the county, when in 1748 his slave ship, the Greyhound, came ashore after surviving a terrible storm. This event began the spiritual journey for Newton, which culminated in his authorship of the song, Amazing Grace. See more »
During the hymn Amazing Grace sung at the wedding, Barbara is seen singing "but now am free" but is heard singing "but now I see". See more »
I saw this film on October 10th, 2006 in Indianapolis. I am one of the judges for the Heartland Film Festival's Truly Moving Picture Award. A Truly Moving Picture " explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life." Heartland gave that award to this film.
This is an inspiring story based on a legendary historical British Member of Parliament, William Wilberforce. During the late 18th century and early 19th century, a very young Wilberforce is elected to Parliament and over the course of several decades leads the fight to ban slavery.
Today this seems like an easy, obvious and intuitive decision. But this was not so 200 years ago. The film clearly explains the entrenched economic motives and the political motives for slavery. Wilberforce starts out as almost a force of one and slowly builds abolitionist momentum by brilliant oratory, political maneuvers, and appealing to his fellow man's better nature.
Ioan Gruffudd is totally believable in explaining to the audience the complexity and heroism of Wilberforce. Wilberforce over the course of his life is sickly and strong, religious and worldly, naive and romantic, and idealistic and practical.
During the course of this mostly political story, we get to see the immense cruelty shown to the captured Africans turned into slaves. We are shown the slave sailing ships where the captured are treated inhumanely and die of starvation, neglect, disease, and filth. Man's inhumanity to man was never worse.
Wilberforce is a great man of history even though mostly forgotten today. He respected his fellow man regardless of their station in life. He was always willing to sacrifice his life and health to help others. And his compassion and spirit was always masked by his humility. He is a hero for all ages.
This is a period piece and you are lost in it because of the attention to detail. The sets, art direction, and costumes allow you to totally suspend disbelief and be moved by the story.
FYI There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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