Sunday, 17 May 2009


Ioan Gruffud as William Wilberforce

AMAZING GRACE is a biography, not of John Newton who wrote the eponymous hymn and whose life story is certainly worthy of a film, but of William Wilberforce, the Member of Parliament the led the fight for the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. The film is very good but I continually had the feeling that it had been cut down from a film that was originally longer. Wilberforce is one of the great - and genuinely good - men of English History and his passion and dedication for his cause (he also campaigned against cruelty to animals) is ably conveyed by Ioan Gruffud. The rest of the cast is exceptional with the wonderfully named Benedict Cumberbatch as Wilberforce's friend William Pitt the younger, Michael Gambon as Charles Fox and Rufus Sewell as the great abolitionist Thomas Clarkson (not depicted with total historical accuracy) and, best of all, Albert Finney as the aforementioned John Newton, the ex-slaveship captain who became an Anglican priest and a fierce opponent of the Slave Trade as well as writing some of the greatest hymns, including the one which gives the film its title. Newton is depicted as a man "haunted by 20.000 ghosts". Directed by Michael Apted. Rating ***

"I was blind but now I seee"
Albert Finney as John Newton

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