05 March, 2007

Amazing Grace, the movie

Dh and I loved this film. My recommendation for taking your children? DO take your older children to see this, as younger students will likely become bored (b/c of lack of a frame of reference and understanding). There are many scenes with Parliament in heated debate over the issues surrounding the slave trade at the end of the 1700's / beginning 1800's. There is also talk of Revolution and use of Laudanum (an opiate which in that day was prescribed medicinally by doctors, but its effects are terribly obvious). There are many scenes which would be good for speech and debate students. They will simply need to pay close attention for best appreciation, as many facts and words are tossed back and forth. Some subtle moves are made and I'm thinking even my 13 yo son would miss a lot of the importance of these things, if he did not have some reference points to be able to connect to these scenes.

This movie is *fantastic*. Wilberforce comes to believe that “God Almighty has set before me two great objects: the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of society.” The film presents Wilberforce's struggle and growth in faith. We meet John Newton, who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace, and we learn his story and struggles as well. These scenes are very powerful. He urges Wilberforce to pursue with diligence the ending of the slave trade, even though it is a daunting task, since many of the Parliament members have money and interests in the trade and in the refining of sugar cane.

There are almost no graphic scenes that would upset young ones, save one that is not real clear as to what is going on. There is narration by one character or another of what is being shown, which is a scene of children and maybe an adult female in a dark room where sugar-cane is being boiled down in huge cauldrons to make refined sugar. All we see is darkness, fire, cauldrons, and silhouettes. The narrator is talking about how some children are engulfed in the flames on accident or roll into the fires from falling asleep of exhaustion. I think it is important information to know, but does one want to see that and hear it on a movie screen? If so, then go rent and watch Amistad instead. In this film, you never see a person burning or being beaten, you never hear the sounds of people screaming or see people being hurt or harmed. We know these things happened, and it is told to us in different scenes by one of the twelve abolitionists as they work to gather evidence and signatures to bring before Parliament.

The most graphic scene is right in the beginning when we see (first from a distance, and in the rain) that a man is whipping a horse multiple times. It all turns out alright, as Wilberforce stops it in time.

We get a strong sense of "The Abolition Committee" which really existed. It was formed to help gather evidence to try to persuade Parliament in campaign after campaign to pass a law making the slave trade illegal. One of the twelve was a former slave, Olaudah Equiano, who wrote and published his own accounts of slave narratives (which my husband has students read in his High School American Lit. class).

Finally, the music is stunning. The final scene partway through credits rolling is that of bag pipers playing Amazing Grace as they slowly march forward to join a band dressed in costume playing on period instruments also playing Amazing Grace. VERY stirring.

This film portrays the Christianity of an impressive politician in such a positive light. Tell your family and friends about it.

It is a *must-see* in my humble opinion!!

1 comment:

Birdie said...

Great review. Definitely helpful information. Thanks for sharing it.