Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: Amazing Grace (2006)

YES! Finally, I got to watch Amazing Grace. I had wanted to see this movie when it came out in theaters, but as I don't go to the theaters often, I never got to see it. Then, years later, when I got into period dramas, I remembered this movie and really wanted to see it. And finally, I was able to watch it yesterday.  
DVD Box Art

William Wilberforce, a member of parliament, is taken to Bath to stay with his cousin, Henry Thornton, and Henry Thornton's wife Marianne Thornton. The Thorntons try to set William up with Barbara Spooner, a young lady of their acquaintance; both Barbara and William have a lot of things in common and the both become very close. The movie moves back and forth between the past where William begins the movement to abolish slavery and the present. In parliament, William faces much opposition: Lord Tarleton and the Duke of Clarence lead the opposition to keep the slave trade. Slowly and over many years, William makes progress toward the abolition of the slave trade.

There were quite a bit of period drama actors and actresses in this movie. If you scroll to the bottom of this review, I have included a table with all of them; there were just so many that the table would make everything look neater.

William Wilberforce (Right) seeking advice
from John Newton (Left)
The acting is great! Ioan Gruffudd was wonderful as William Wilberforce. He conveyed the emotion that a politician would need in order to win over people to the abolition movement. His performance here shows that he is a great actor. I am convinced by his portrayal of William Wilberforce. Romola Garai also starred as his future wife Barbara Spooner; her acting job was wonderful as well. My only complaint is that it would have been nice to have seen more of John Newton (Albert Finney), but it's only a minor one; my favorite quote from the movie is said by him: "...I remember two things clearly: I'm a great sinner and Christ is a great savior."

William Wilberforce presenting a petition to parliament.
There is some nice scenery in Amazing Grace. There is a mixture of scenes in the country and in London, but everything looks good! The only scene that was not so great was when Olaudah Equiano was showing William the slave ship (in fact, if you do not want to hear the details of the treatment of slaves on the ships, you may want to skip that part). Other than that, the outdoor scenes and even the indoor scenes were great; the colors were very nice for the most part in both the indoor and outdoor scene.
Barbara Spooner (Romola Garai)
The costuming was good. It's usually hard to review the men's costumes since most of the time they are pretty much the same; their costumes did seem to be period accurate, though. There were only three women in this movie, but their costumes were great. Through Barbara's dresses, you could tell roughly at what time each sequence takes place. When her and William first meet, she is wearing clothes that would represent the late 1700s, but before the Regency era (so before 1795), . Once her and William are married and have their first child, her clothes represent the very early Regency. Once the law is passed to abolish slavery, you can pretty much tell that her clothes are Regency.

The song "Amazing Grace" does have some importance in this movie. It is sung once by William Wilberforce and it is sung again at William WIlberforce and Barbara Spooner's wedding. At the end, there is a band of bagpipes, drums, and wind instruments that play it. It was performed very nicely each time. The rest of the soundtrack had more serious music.

Overall: 4/5 4.5/5
This was a very good movie! It was very well acted, the scenery was great, and the costuming was good. I could have done without hearing about some details about the treatment of the slaves (which is probably something that children shouldn't hear). Other than that and some talk of the ill actions of a politician, there wasn't too much that was very bad. I would say that this would be great to watch in a history class.

Amazing Grace is available on DVD. It runs for 117 minutes and is rated PG for thematic material involving slavery and some mild language

Actor/Actress -- Role in Amazing Grace -- Other Period Dramas
Ioan Gruffudd -- William Wilberforce -- Pip in Great Expectations (1999)
Romola Garai -- Barbara Spooner -- Emma Woodhouse in Emma (2009), Gwendolen Harleth in Daniel Deronda
Benedict Cumberbatch -- William Pitt (the Younger) -- Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock (2010)
Michael Gambon -- Lord Charles Fox -- Mr. Woodhouse in Emma (2009), Thomas Holbrook in Cranford (2007), Squire Hamley in Wives and Daughters (1999)
Rufus Sewell -- Thomas Clarkson -- Will Landislaw in Middlemarch (1994)
Ciraran Hinds -- Lord Tarleton -- Captain Frederick Wentworth in Persuasion (1995)
Toby Jones -- Duke of Clarence -- Daniel Quilp in The Old Curiosity Shop (2007), Squercum in The Way We Live Now (2001)
Sylvestra Le Touzel -- Marianne Thornton -- Mrs. Allen in Northanger Abbey (2007), Fanny Price in Mansfield Park (1983)
Nicholas Farrell -- Henry Thornton -- Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park (1983)
Bill Paterson -- Lord Dundas -- Mr. Meagles in Little Dorrit (2008), Mr. Gibson in Wives and Daughters (1999)

Michael Gambon as Lord Charles Fox

Movie Poster


  1. Haha! I've just been working on a post which will have something about this movie in it...:)

    I'm glad you enjoyed it. I thought it was good enough - although I don't rate it quite as highly as most people do.

  2. Awesome...I've been so hoping you'd watch and review this! Since my friend (who I've mentioned before) likes it so much, I was looking forward to hearing what you thought of it. I will (again) mention to Mom about seeing it! *fingers crossed* ;)

  3. This movie is definetly a favorite of mine!! :)


  4. I could have done without hearing about some details about the treatment of the slaves (which is probably something that children shouldn't hear).

    I have to disagree with you on this point. What is the point in doing a movie about slavery, when the audience does not have an idea of its true horrors in some fashion?

    1. Just a personal preference of mine. It wasn't all of the details of slavery that made me cringe, but some specific details.

      Thanks for commenting! :-)


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