Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

12 January 2008

Amazing Grace, dir. Michael Apted (2006)

NIKKI says:
An historical drama about changing the world -- it's made for me, quite frankly. I don't know if I was tired, or had just eaten way too much over dinner with my parents, but I thought the film lacked the emotional resonance of others it brings to mind. I'm thinking of Iron-Jawed Angels, Glory, The Mission, movies about big events in history that present us with real heroes and remind us what others went through to make life better for us.

William Wilburforce is absolutely one of those people, and his struggle was honorable and compelling, but I wonder if this film's structure didn't let it down some? We jumped back and forth in time quite often, and I found some of the conversations about the issue at hand slightly repetitive. It's not hard to convince us that Wilburforce's mission is a good one, and yet much time was spent doing just that. Or perhaps he was convincing himself?

There was a lot of talking, a lot of reiteration of the key points -- costs of the slave trade, Parliament's reticence to end the trade, experiences of the slaves. There was little imagination here to make this film less lecture-like.

This was an interesting history lesson, but it lacked vigor. I didn't jump on my seat, fists pumping in the air, when it was all said and done. And I should have.


STEVE says:
It says much about the American education system that I hadn't heard the name William Wilburforce until watching Amazing Grace. We're taught that Abraham Lincoln was the great emancipator, but Wilburforce did his work during the American Revolution - nearly 100 years before Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862.

What I found interesting about the movie, apart from the history lesson, were the parallels drawn between the way Wilburforce and his crew were looked upon for trying to abolish the slave trade, and the way anyone who speaks out against the war in Iraq is looked upon today. Lines like “One can’t be seen opposing the king when the streets of Paris are running with blood,” and “When war comes, opposition will soon be called sedition" inarguably reflect Bush's America.

It was a good movie, but not a great one. You're with Wilburforce all the way, and want to see him come out on top, but how can you not? The moral deck is stacked in his favor.


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