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March 6, 2021
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Amazing Grace
(2007-03-19)
(wgvu) - John Newton was an English Slave Ship master who later became an Anglican Priest. His life in the slave trade haunted him after his true conversion to Christianity, and he famously composed the hymn Amazing Grace, which has the subtext of slavery. He also mentored William Wilberforce who led the abolition movement in the British Parliament. Michael Apted, who made the classic biographical film, Coal Miner's Daughter about country singer Loretta Lynn, has brought to life the story of Wilberforce and Newton in a masterful movie called Amazing Grace. The focus of the film is on Wilberforce, a man who is presented as conflicted about his direction in life. He is young member of Parliament who becomes more interested in God and a life of Christian pursuit than of political power. Played by Ioan Gruffudd (YO-an Griffith), Wilberforce is thinking about becoming a priest, until a fellow Parliamentarian sends a group of abolitionists to sway his opinion. Among the group of English men and women is a former slave, played by African musician Youssou N'Dour (clip). Soon the abolition of the British slave trade consumes Wilberforce. In 1791 Wilberforce introduced the first bill to abolish the slave trade. It failed, and thereafter Wilberforce continued to reintroduce the bill year after year. After war with France broke out 1793, the idea of abolition was equated with sedition. Wilberforce endured chronic ill health, and frequently wavered in his campaign. His old mentor Newton continues to be an influence. In the film he's played by Albert Finney. (clip) It takes decades for Wilberforce to realize his dreams, and the movie details the trials he overcomes. Amazing Grace is an intelligent, thoughtful, fully realized drama that avoids hysteria or melodrama. Historically accurate, dramatic but realistic, with a cast of the finest British actors, Amazing Grace is simply amazing. © Copyright 2021, wgvu