On Screen: “Amazing Grace”

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AMAZING GRACE | How sweet a film

“Amazing Grace,” the story of British abolitionist William Wilberforce, had a short stay in theaters. It’s a shame because the historically-based film is definitely worth watching.

It’s out on DVD now and we actually have had it for some time, but didn’t watch it until this week. It stars Ioan Gruffudd, the Welsh actor who portrayed “Mr. Fantastic” in the “Fantastic 4” films, and a great ensemble cast that includes Albert Finney (as John Newton, the slave ship captain-turned-clergyman who wrote the song “Amazing Grace,” which, as you’d expect, is featured prominently) and Rufus Sewell, who was so good in “The Illusionist.”

Wilberforce was elected to Parliament at the age of 21 and navigated the world of 18th Century backroom politics to end the slave trade in the British Empire. “Amazing Grace” tells the story of how Wilberforce and his contemporaries, including William Pitt, Granville Sharp, Beilby Porteus and Lord Middleton, worked toward the passage of Britain’s Slave Trade Act of 1807. Aside from an accurate depiction of events, the film’s script, acting and direction are stellar and engaging.

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