Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Take 29: Amazing Grace

Tuesday: My "take" on a film.

Amazing Grace (2006)

"Behind the song you love is a story you will never forget."

When I first heard about this film, I misunderstood the tagline (above) and assumed the movie was about John Newton, a former slave ship captain who became a preacher and wrote the lyrics for the stirring hymn "Amazing Grace."

The film, however, is about William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffud) who went before the British Parliament year after year in a quest to end the slave trade.

John Newton (Albert Finney) is part of the story, as he was Wilberforce's preacher, mentor, and friend. Newton's past involvement with the slave trade haunts him...

I wish I could remember all their names.
My 20,000 ghosts, they all had names,
beautiful African names. We'd call them
with just grunts, noises. We were apes,
they were human.

Such sorrow and deep regret over his cruelty leads him to pen "Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!..."

The song profoundly influences and inspires William. He, too, feels drawn to devote his life to God. Sitting in the grass, looking at a spider's web, he tells his butler...

It's God. I have 10,000 engagements of state today
but I would prefer to spend the day out here getting
a wet arse, studying dandelions and marveling at...
spider's webs.

You found God, sir?

I think He found me. You have any idea how 
inconvenient that is? How idiotic it will sound?
I have a political career glittering ahead of me,
and in my heart I want spider's webs.

He struggles with a decision... devote his life to God, or continue in the political arena, alongside his friend William Pitt (Benedict Cumberbatch) who aspires to become Prime Minister.

No one of our age has ever taken power.

Which is why we're too young realize
certain things are impossible.
Which is why we will do them anyway.

Wilberforce eventually realizes that his Divine mission is to fight for the abolition of slavery, thus both ambitions--to serve God, and continue in politics--align. His purpose and passion drive the crusade and nearly destroy his health, but his perseverance is, well...amazing. 

Amazing Grace. Produced by the same group (Walden Media) who brought us The Chronicles of Narnia movies; Holes; and The Giver, it's a quality film worth watching. 

Notes on content:
  • Some references to the rape of female slaves, but no nudity or sex shown.
  • Mild profanity in racial slurs and some words considered profane in Britain.
  • Descriptions of slave conditions, which include violent acts, but none shown.

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