William Wilberforce, always a crusader for social justice at all levels, had never considered the evils of slavery in the British Empire until his friend William Pitt introduced him to a group of anti-slavery activists, or abolitionists. After learning about the horrors that occurred on slave ships and on plantations in the West Indies, Wilberforce began using his influence in the House of Commons to put a stop to the evil practice through legislation. What he did not anticipate was the pushback from the pro-slavery lobby. After exhausting all his options, the source of Wilberforce’s motivation suddenly comes from an unlikely source—a blind pastor with a song that was destined to change cultures everywhere.
Production Quality (3 points)
Amazing Grace has obviously been produced by a top notch crew. Many crews are wary of historical movies, likely because it is difficult to achieve the proper level of professionalism and to acquire the props, costumes, sets, and locations needed for an authentic film. Amazing Grace accomplishes all of these very well, bringing this historical story to life without committing the usual errors. The camera work is excellent, as are the video and sound qualities. There is nothing negative to say here.
Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)
Adapting a historical plot can be difficult, depending on how much content the writers want to cover—sometimes they can bite off more than they can chew. But it can also be a far better plot than most fictional plots, since it is based on true events. To some extent, both of these things can be said about Amazing Grace. Since it covers a lot of time, the character development is not perfect, but it is still fine. The dialogue is above average and the message of social justice for slaves is clear. Sensitive elements are dealt with handily without sugarcoating reality. One other issue to raise here is that the Christian message is not explicit—it is difficult to discern whether or not this was intentional on the part of the creators. Overall, this is a great historical narrative to adapt into a movie, and even though it feels like more could have been done, the end result is still masterful.
Acting Quality (3 points)
Since this is a professional and mainstream cast, we should not expect anything less than great. As a side note, it is unfortunate that this cannot be said about predominantly Christian casts. In Amazing Grace, each actor or actress fits their role very well—each has been cast very appropriately. Line delivery is excellent, as is emotional expression. There were a lot of potential acting pitfalls, but none of them are fallen into.
More movies need to be made on important historical topics such as the different facets and time periods of the abolitionist movement. Unfortunately, it is difficult to believe that this film would have been as good if it had been fully created and distributed by a completely Christian team. Amazing Grace needs to serve as a constant reminder of the types of movies that Christian film-makers should be consistently rolling out. While Amazing Grace is not a perfect film, it is certainly one to be proud of.
Final Rating: 8 out of 10 points