I finally ordered Amazing Gracefrom Netflix. Someone had recommended this movie in the comments last year, and it lived up to its good review. Not overdone or overly dramatic, this movie lets the subject matter speak for itself in an artfully woven true story of the famous 18th century British abolitionist, William Wilberforce who spent twenty years in the British Parliament fighting to end the British slave trade. What's touching is his strong relationships with family and friends throughout his struggle, clearly a man who was well respected, despite his unpopular position as an abolitionist.
Review from Amazon:
In this inspirational costume drama, Michael Apted (49 Up) recounts a period in British history sure to be unfamiliar to most Americans. In fact, his eye-opening biography of 18th century abolitionist William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd)[Horatio Hornblower] is likely to come as a revelation to many Britons, as well...The title comes from John Newton's hymn "Amazing Grace" ("I once was lost but now am found"). Newton (Albert Finney) was a former slaveholder, who became a clergyman and spent his days repenting. While America had John Brown, England had Wilberforce, and Newton is one of many who helped the [ministers of parliament] MP to abolish slavery in the UK. The story begins towards the end of Wilberforce's mission when he's sick with colitis and addicted to laudanum. Apted continues to alternate between 1797 and 1789, when Wilberforce was fitter and more idealistic, and ends in 1807 as his efforts come to fruition. Apted and writer Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things) do right by their hero. Unlike Amistad, however, slaves are largely off-screen, with the exception of author Equiano (Senegalese vocalist Youssou N'Dour). Amazing Grace reserves its focus for the politicians who risked their reps for the greater good, like Wilberforce and Prime Minister Pitt (an excellent Benedict Cumberbatch), and those more concerned with the income slavery provided their constituents, like Lord Tarleton (Ciarán Hinds) and the Duke of Clarence (Toby Jones). --Kathleen C. Fennessy