Amazing Grace

Director:   Michael Apted
Year:   2006
Language:   English
Time:   111 minutes
Rated:   PG

English director Michael Apted chronicles the movement toward the abolition of the slave trade in Great Britain and its colonies. The focus of the film is William Wilberforce, Quaker politician, who rises from obscurity to champion the abolition issue in a 20-year parliamentary struggle. Albert Finney appears in a cameo as the former slave ship captain, John Newton, who wrote the lyrics for the hymn Amazing Grace.

Here is part of a recent review of "Amazing Grace" by Stephanie Zacharek on the Salon website. "Given the choice between a sensitive, tasteful rendering of what we suppose history must have been like and a flamboyant dash of dramatic invention, Apted goes for maximum punch every time: Just as the gentlemanly Wilberforce (played by Ioan Gruffudd) is waffling between a career in politics and religion, a raggedy anti-slavery radical (Rufus Sewell) shows up at his country estate and spills a bag full of rusty shackles and leg irons on his dinner table. Wilberforce sees his future, and so do we. . . . [the] picture, openhearted and enthusiastic, is partly an ode to Wilberforce and partly a love letter to the simple act of taking action. Contrary to popular belief, old hippies didn't invent activism: The long, proud tradition of striving for social and political change stretches way back, further, even than 1797, the year in which "Amazing Grace" opens. Wilberforce, who became a member of Parliament at age 23 in 1782 and took on the Abolitionists' cause in 1787, proposed anti-slave-trade legislation every year, for 18 years, before it was passed."


The whole review

Interview with the director

Other background on the film