April 21, 2016

Amazing Grace 2006 Review

   Weekends are wonderful for many things, one of which (and probably best of which) is watching period dramas. And I watched two. In one day. Which makes me a bit ashamed of myself, of course, but it doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it.
       Plus it's educational, right? Especially considering the two movies I saw were Belle and Amazing Grace, I learned much about the slave trade in England, (not to mention beautiful Georgian-style gowns and fashions, but this is beside the point.)

This makes me wonder how large the costume budget was for Belle.
   So, anyway, through some clever sleuthing, I found the full movies of both Amazing Grace and Belle on youtube, but I decided to write a review on the former because a:the volume on Belle was way too quiet, and b:further reasons that are detailed below. :)


   One of the best parts of watching this movie was realizing how many good (and good-looking) actors there were! To my delight I soon discovered that I had the pleasure of watching Horatio Hornblower (his real name is Ioan Gruffudd, but whatever) play the role of William Wilberforce, a fiery member of parliament who works to end the slave trade in 1790's Great Britain. This was an hour and a half well-spent, my friends!

   But really, beyond such great actors like Romola Garai, Ioann Gruffudd, and Benedict Cumberbatch, this movie had some great music, costumes, and scenery, not to mention a powerful story and message.
   England had a major hand in trading slaves. Their ships carried them from Africa to all across the world, but often the Caribbean islands. The conditions on the ships were terrible, resulting in death and disease on the voyage. To people like William Wilberforce, slavery and the slave trade were intolerable and inhumane acts that needed to stop.

   This movie focuses mainly on Wilberforce's struggle to convince Parliament to abolish the slave trade, something that takes years of perseverance. At first there are simply too many people who don't agree with abolition, and believe that Britain's economy would collapse if the slave trade were ended. Just as the tides begin to turn for Wilberforce and his friends, the French Revolution begins. And, as typical of the French Revolution, this messes things up for a lot of people. Now, if Britain stops trading slaves, the French will take their opportunity, and Britain will lose their economy to their most hated enemy. Wilberforce is defeated, and he spirals into depression and regret.

    Enter Barbara Spooner. Even after years of failure in parliament, Barbara encourages William to talk about what happened, and once the revolution is over, convinces him to try again. Through faith, friendship, and a whole lot of hard work. Wilberforce succeeds in ending Britain's slave trade, but not quite in a way you'd expect!
     This film was quite touching for me. I really love and admire Wilberforce's passion and energy for such a worthy cause. It reminds me a lot of John Adams' same drive for independence, shown in the movie 1776. The story itself is pretty discouraging until the end, so the movie did a good job of balancing the dark, dreary, and frustrating with pretty English countrysides and a slight romantic side.

Wilberforce rolling out the names on a petition to end the slave trade.
   And of course no review of this movie would be complete without mentioning how the title is involved. Much of William Wilberforce's inspiration comes from a man named John Newton, who now works in the church, but was once the captain of a slave ship. Newton eventually realized what horrible things he had done, and in repentance composed the words of the well-known hymn, Amazing Grace. The end credits of this film have a really neat rendition of Amazing Grace playing in the background, so if you watch this, definitely watch the whole thing!

Have you seen/liked Amazing Grace or Belle?
Do you like the hymn Amazing Grace?



    I'm so glad you got to watch it! (You had to, sooner or later. ;-P) Ohhhhh, isn't it amazing?! I've probably seen it something close to five times, and each time it gets deeper and deeper and I love it more. This may be my favorite Ioan role too. He's brilliant. ;-)

    I like Belle too, but it can't hold a candle to Amazing Grace.

    1. Yes, this was an awesome movie! (Why can't more movies be like this?) This was actually on the extremely long list of period dramas I hadn't seen for at least 7 or 8 years and had no recollection of how it went.

  2. I LOVE AMAZING GRACE!!! It is one of the most inspiring movies I've ever seen. Definitely a favorite in our household. :)

    I'm glad you liked it, too. :) And just so you know, this was an excellent review. You did a very nice job of summarizing the story. (Personally, I'm horrible at summarizing stories. I never know what to include and what not to include.)

    I have yet to see Belle, but I'd like to sometime. :) I've heard a lot of good about it. (Which did you like better, Belle or Amazing Grace?)

    Do I like the hymn Amazing Grace? Oh my yes! That is such a classic, beautiful song! :)

    1. Thank you! I usually just blather on and on in edit mode, then mold what I have into something semi-structured! ;) I'm still getting the hang of reviews; they take me a long time, but I think it pays off in the end.
      Belle was a lot better for costumes and romance, but it didn't leave me with the same passionate feeling as Amazing Grace did. But it was really interesting to watch two different stories around the same subject and time period in England!

  3. Watched this for the first time the other day and really enjoyed it, so many great actors :D The bagpipes bit at the end though... I liked it, but it was so random!

    1. Glad you liked it, Catherine! There could hardly be a better cast for this movie! :)

  4. We watched this in history! :D