Thursday, January 10, 2008

Amazing Grace (2007)

After watching the film Amazing Grace the other night, I had to immediately watch it again, so impressive was the remarkable attention to historical detail and authenticity. It was easy to smell the lush English countryside, the dim old churches, and the stench of the slave ships. It plunges the viewer into late eighteenth, early nineteenth century England.

I must admit, however, that I was a bit confused by the portrayal of the Duke of Clarence, the future William IV, as an unappealing midget. Did the prince, whom I have always thought of as a very handsome man, really spend that much time lounging around the House of Commons? I thought Clarence was usually to be found with the navy, or with Mrs. Jordan and their ten children. But then I do not really know that much about him.

The song "Amazing Grace" has never been a favorite of mine; I hate when it is sung at Mass, since the theology of the words are so Calvinistic. However, in the context of the historical drama and the dynamic characters involved, the song can be seen in a new light, symbolizing a life-changing moment of grace.

The story pivots around the first encounter of politician William Wilberforce with the lovely, idealistic young lady who was to become his wife. Barbara encouraged Wilberforce to persevere in his struggle to outlaw the slave trade in the British Empire, in spite of his many health problems. The wealthy merchants and their representatives in parliament stood against him. It is interesting that in autocratic France, slavery had long been abolished; a former slave, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, held an exalted post at the court of Versailles.

Wilberforce, a devout Christian, gained popular support for the cause through education, boycotts, and skillful political maneuvering. His character, portrayed by Ioann Grufudd as an eccentric English country gentleman, in love with God, is utterly captivating. His courage and refusal to surrender his convictions, in spite of slander and ridicule, made him a prince among men, one who was totally free. Share


Linda said...

Thank you for this post. I watched this movie over and over recently. I also thought the character of his wife was excellent; just as he was at the point of despair, she accurately appraised the political climate and gave him hope to continue the fight against slavery. I also found the character of William Pitt the Younger fascinating; I never had any idea of his role in the fight against slavery. I thought the movie was very well done am very glad it was so popular when it first came out.

Anonymous said...

I have heard rave reviews from other people about the film. I know people who like films such as 'Kill Bill volume I' who find the film to be powerful and inspiring such is the range of people who find it appealing.

SuzanneG said...

DH and I saw this in the theatre when it came out and really enjoyed it.

I share your sentiments and inability to surpress a cringed face when Amazing Grace is played at Mass.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, Linda, I never knew that about Pitt, either.

It really is a beautifully crafted film, Julygirl. Anyone would be crazy not to love it!

You know, Suzanne, part of the frustration is that the most exquisite music of the world was written for the liturgy of the Roman rite. But we rarely hear it, and instead have pop tunes and Protestant hymns.