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Amazing Grace
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Amazing Grace More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

I don't normally like historical films...

9/10
Author: curtisloew from United Kingdom
27 April 2008

For me, a teenage boy with a taste for 'action', the more historical and meaningful film seems to evade my taste! However, the purity of 'Amazing Grace' captured my heart. The message seemingly portrayed throughout the film is that of the relativism to the modern age. Thus, throughout Wilberforce's life we are met with the struggles of a character who has a burning desire he cannot escape. Apted appears to have crafted a beautiful piece of handiwork, showing the true brilliance and wonder of Wilberforce, essentially highlighting the hypocrisy of the British government.

However, it is not just thanks to the director that this film deserves such high acclaim. Ioan Gruffudd's performance helped to bring a real William Wilberforce to screen, enabling the audience to hope that his was the Wilberforce who abolished slavery. Michael Gambon and Albert Finney also deserve high praise for their outstanding performances and added a clever further dimension to the plot.

Overall, 'Amazing Grace' was a simply stunning picture, beautifully filmed and wonderfully portrayed. Most of all, however, the film appears to ask questions of the audience as well as showing the power and impact a single man can have.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant casting

9/10
Author: emuir-1 from United States
9 April 2008

This is one of the most perfectly cast movies I have seen yet, with brilliant performances by some of Britains biggest names. There is not a wrong note. Even the smallest one-line characters are perfect. The depiction of London life at the end of the eighteenth century is so real one almost wants to hold a perfumed handkerchief to one's nose to ward off the smell. The parliamentary scenes of sparkling oratory and wit, and back-room deals, has changed little as we can see from "Question time in the house", which we can view today on CSPAN.

Half-way through the film I was reduced to tears, not by the descriptions of the slave trade, bad as it was, but by the realization that so many people in those callous indifferent times were willing to stand up and oppose inhuman conditions and devote their lives to reform.

The film is set at the end of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, just after Britain had lost the American colonies. The British financed the French Revolution as payback to the French for supporting the Americans, which they had done to undermine Britain. So much for the Entente Cordial!

Life was cruel and hard. The industrial revolution and wars had turned the country upside down and driven many agricultural workers into the towns and cities to find work. The press gang roamed the country kidnapping any man they could find for service in the Navy, often leaving their families destitute. There were no pensions or social welfare system of any kind and injured servicemen were left to beg in the streets. Children slaved in mines and factories with no limit to their hours, petty criminals were hanged or transported to Australia for what we consider misdemeanors today. And yet there were many people who saw the injustice and worked for change. William Wilberforce and John Clarkson were two of those men.

Many people of the time accepted slavery as necessary for the economic good, and feared that without slaves, Britain would suffer losses and loose its power base, just as today any attempt to increase the basic wage is met with howls of protest and dire predictions of massive layoffs and potential bankruptcy of businesses. The Duke of Clarence spoke for many when he stated that the slaves were better off than most of the poor in Britain, having their own vegetable garden and poultry, their miserable lives were far better than they would have been in Africa. The lack of freedom notwithstanding, he was wasn't all that wrong.

Unfortunately the film did not address many issues due to the necessity of keeping it to a reasonable length. Wilberforce was strongly criticised in his lifetime for trying to better the lot of the African slaves, rather than trying to help the poor in Britain. The passage of the slave trade act was a start, the actual abolition of slavery took another 20 years. One unintended consequence of banning the trade and not prohibiting slavery itself was that slaves then became vastly more valuable as they became a scarce commodity.

Because there were so many omissions, and one of two minor discrepancies, e.g. the Duke of Clarence would not have sat in the House of Commons, the film would have benefited greatly from optional pop ups such as the DVD's of Rome, which could have explained who was who, and more detail:

"Wilberforce inherited his wealth from his merchant family"

"The Duke of Clarence was the son of King George III, had served in the Navy with distinction, and became King William IV. He was known as the Sailor King, and proved to be a surprisingly good King."

"Britain and France were old enemies. The French had supported the American Revolution to undermine its old enemy Britain. In turn the British supported the French Revolution as payback."

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

An amazing movie about the quest to end the English Slave Trade

8/10
Author: ironhorse_iv from United States
25 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Directed by Michael Apted, Amazing Grace is about the campaign against slave trade in the British Empire, led by William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd), who was responsible for steering anti-slave trade legislation through the British parliament in 18th century England. Wilberforce fruitlessly fights both public indifference and moneyed opposition determined to keep their exploitation safe. Nevertheless, Wilberforce finds the inspiration in newfound love Barbara Spooner (Romola Garai) to rejuvenate the fight with new ideas that would lead to a great victory for social justice. It was so touching, he's so determined. The title is a reference to the hymn "Amazing Grace" by John Newton (Albert Finney), William Wilberforce's friend who was inspired to write the song after his own experience with slavery. The song became a major influence on Wilberforce and the abolition movement. The movie was pretty good. I have to say, Ioan Gruffudd was great for the role. His acting and singing voice was stellar, I was so impressed. I have to say the supporting cast was astonishing. I am a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch's work, and love him as William Wilberforce's friend William Pitt the Younger. Other great cast members are Michael Gambon as Charles James Fox, Rufus Sewell as Thomas Clarkson, and Toby Jones as William, Duke of Clarence. For a Christian theme movie, it's not so bad. It doesn't preach too much, and allow the story to unfold. It's full of witty script, full of information worthy of a movie. It's a good movie worthy to be show in history classes, and anybody willing to know how slavery came to an end. Still, the movie comes with a few problems. There are some historical inaccuracies, such as example, in one scene Wilberforce, known as a fine singer, sings the first verse of "Amazing Grace". However, the verses written by John Newton were not associated with the now familiar melody until much later. The singing scenes are full of audio/visual unsynchronized that the film was delay for release due to boom problems and scenes not matching with the sound. Anachronisms are also in the film way too much. The worst one in my opinion is the bottle of Dom Perignon champagne. Why is there a bottle of Dom Perignon in the 18th century? That didn't come until the early 20th century. I didn't like the love story being add to the film, it took so much away from the main story of ending slavery. The editing get a little bit confusing. Jump back and forth from different periods of history of William Wilberforce's film. It easy to get lost where and when in history. I do have something else to say, during that year, 2006 when it was released, there were two movies that came out during the same time. One is this movie, while the other is call 'The Amazing Grace' an Nigerian-British historical drama film written by Jeta Amata & Nick Moran. That movie is about tells the reformation story of British slave trader John Newton (Nick Moran), sailing to what is now Nigeria to buy slaves but, increasingly shocked by the brutality of slavery, later gave up the trade and became an Anglican priest. While it's not well known, I don't want people to get confused and get the wrong movie. That movie by Nick Moran is good, but mediocre compare to this film. Overall: a good movie that is brilliant and important to history because it represented how much mankind need to know that slavery is wrong. Very inspirational film, so check it out.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

extraordinary

10/10
Author: joshua-halstead from United States
21 June 2008

this film was extraordinary!!! i have to be honest i didn't think i would like it, in fact i thought it would bore me to tears but it didn't. William Wilberforce is my dads hero so my dad has told me the story a few times however it was still extraordinary. i am a fan of star actor Ioan Gruffudd. the story is about William Wilberforce and his fight to abolish slavery. most of the film took place in the meeting room where the "house" would be fighting over politics. the film had some funny parts but it didn't rely on the joke. if your interested in politics, like me, this film is even better. i believe it to be the 3rd best film. that is why it got 10 out of 10 stars.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

a beautiful and moving movie

8/10
Author: west_cavallo from Australia
11 September 2007

Amazing Grace is a fantastic biopic of William Wilberforce, a parliamentarian who campaigned for the abolishment of the slave trade in Britain. The acting is superb, particularly by Cumberbatch, Sewell and, of course, Gruffudd, and the script stays close to historical fact, making it easier to trust and enjoy without worrying about being fed mis-information.

One of the more prominent issues to do with the film's reception is the complaint that it doesn't show much of the perspective of the black slaves. This may be true, but this criticism is missing the point; the movie is about using the law positively, the constant struggle for equality, and the life of one man who dared to stand up for others less fortunate than himself. The fact that he was white and British is a fact, not a statement.

I found Amazing Grace to be truly inspiring, and would recommend it to those over the age of about 15- it isn't that it isn't appropriate, more that the subject matter is less likely to interest younger viewers.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Enthralling story of struggle and triumph

8/10
Author: Richard from Tacoma, Washington
24 March 2007

Similar to an earlier role as Horatio Hornblower in the acclaimed A&E series of the same name, Ioan Gruffudd is here the central character, William Wilberforce, in a moving drama of 18th century England. Once again he demonstrates his adeptness to playing characters with a mission. Here, of course, the mission is the abolition of slavery within the British Empire. But unlike Hornblower, Wilberforce is afflicted with colitis, self-doubt and failure. And Gruffudd does admirably portraying the struggles and hardships he endured in his decades long quest to advance legislation in the British Parliament that finally does the job. And the relief of his success is as moving as the climax of any Rocky movie. The supporting cast is superb and cinematography captures the era well. Although rated PG, this film is likely to bore the adolescents in your family. Take your mother-in-law instead, and impress her with your interest in history. But go see it!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Behind the story you will love is a movie you will never forget

10/10
Author: mdawgig from United States
23 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Amazing Grace is one of the most amazing movies to come into theatres in many years. The entire movie is about the struggle to do what is right, even though it may be very wrong and fighting for what you know is right even if it is the most difficult thing to do. The main character, William Wilberforce, is a parlementarian who is concerned to do what is right through opposition of the other politicians 300 strong. Throughout the movie, he faces struggles from not knowing to serve God to being addicted to drugs. The movie is dramatic with many touches of wonderful humor that will make you laugh out loud. The movie is filled with scenes that are entirely quotable and send a strong message that is very unmistakable: do what is right. From start to the very amazing ending that you will NEVER forget. This story will make you feel wonderful and very good inside. Behind the song you love is a story you will never forget, such powerful words for an even more powerful movie.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A movie to match the story

9/10
Author: ddelamaide from United States
12 March 2007

Sometimes a movie with a great script and great performances can be an exercise that a film buff appreciates without being very engaged. A recent example is "Notes on a Scandal" -- very well done but with three terribly unsympathetic characters and very little for a normal person to relate to.

"Amazing Grace" is in that category, like "Hotel Rwanda", where a great script and great performances also move you. This telling of William Wilberforce's long struggle to abolish the British slave trade is truly moving -- not least from the passion of Ioan Gruffudd (pronounced Griffith) as Wilberforce. There are many other marvelous performances -- the towering Albert Finney as hymn writer John Newton, Michael Gambon as Charles Fox, Benedict Cumberbatch as William Pitt, even Jeremy Swift as the butler -- but this is Gruffud's movie. He is strong, weak, decisive, temporizing, passionate, discouraged, serious, winsome -- a range his earlier roles have not called for but which he carries off with great verve.

So great that such a good movie brings these names to life again for our times. And of course the story, how persistence -- real persistence over years and decades -- can win out even against the strongest of vested interests, is a timeless lesson and hopefully not lost on this generation.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Movie Review

10/10
Author: tomwal from United States
5 March 2007

This excellent film tells a rarely filmed story about the slave trade in Britian. An all British cast as far as I could determine, were excellent with Albert Finney providing a stand out performance as a former captain of a slave ship, now reformed and doing penance, part of which was composing the well known hymn, Amazing Grace. The bulk of the film is how one dedicated man fought most of his life with a few followers to abolish the slave trade in England. This is a period piece,rich in detail and beautifully photographed. Direction, music score and acting from the leads and supporting cast are flawless. At the end of the film before the closing credits, is a moving rendition of Amazing Grace played by a Drum and Bagpipe unit,ending with a back shot if Westminister Abbey. Truly an inspiring close to an inspiring film !

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

What a wonderful film

10/10
Author: debras110 from Chicago, Illinois
5 March 2007

This was an excellent film and the actors were superb. Albert Finney was fantastic as John Newton. I was not familiar with William Wilburforce or his friends but am now glad to know about these historical figures. In a time when there is no one much to look up to, it is nice to know that people existed who stood up for what was right.

I was captured from the moment it began through the ending credits. It was like reading a great book that you can't put down. > RUN _ DO NOT WALK _ TO THE NEAREST THEATRE.. Anyone interested in history will love the movie. Anyone interested in seeing how the GOOD in the world needs to be fought for - long and hard, will appreciate it. I wish I had know about WWilburforce when I was in London. His grave in Westminster would have been something I would have liked to paid my respects to.

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