The 2007 movie Amazing Grace is a powerful movie about William Wilburforce and his battle to end slavery in 18th Century Great Britain. Movingly played by Ioan Gruffudd, William Wilburforce felt a powerful desire to serve God, but was challenged by England’s youngest Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger (Benedict Cumberbatch), to serve humanity through politics.
Albert Finney plays John Newton whose life as a slave trader, and later as a minister, had a profound effect on William Wilburforce. John Newton penned the beloved Christian hymn “Amazing Grace” in response to his own conversion aboard a slave ship.
The lives of Wilburforce, Pitt and Newton, as well as other abolitionists and politicians, are skillfully woven into a rich historical epic which covers 15 years of the fight to end slavery from 1782 through 1807 when Wilburforce finally successfully spearheaded a bill passed through Parliament which abolished the slave trade in the British empire forever.
The movie accurately depicts the deep spiritual conviction of Wilburforce as well as his battle with chronic illness without making him look weak or pathetic in the process. Interestingly, Gruffudd himself comes from a Christian home and was himself active in the London Church of Christ as a young man.
But Amazing Grace is first and foremost a movie that sheds a harsh light on the slave trade in the British Empire in the 18th century as well as the passion of those leaders who sought to see the practice ended. A timeless, moving story beautifully told, Amazing Grace is well worth watching.
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