Amazing Grace

February 23rd, 2007


Amazing Grace

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Still of Romola Garai and Ioan Gruffudd in Amazing GraceStill of Ioan Gruffudd in Amazing GraceMichael Apted in Amazing GraceAmazing GraceStill of Albert Finney in Amazing GraceStill of Ioan Gruffudd in Amazing Grace

The idealist William Wilberforce maneuvers his way through Parliament, endeavoring to end the British transatlantic slave trade.

Release Year: 2006

Rating: 7.4/10 (11,953 voted)

Critic's Score: 65/100

Director: Michael Apted

Stars: Ioan Gruffudd, Albert Finney, Michael Gambon

In 1797, William Wilberforce, the great crusader for the British abolition of slavery, is taking a vacation for his health even while he is sicker at heart for his frustrated cause. However, meeting the charming Barbara Spooner, Wilberforce finds a soulmate to share the story of his struggle. With few allies such as his mentor, John Newton, a slave ship captain turned repentant priest who penned the great hymn, "Amazing Grace," Prime William Pitt, and Olaudah Equiano, the erudite former slave turned author, Wilberforce fruitlessly fights both public indifference and moneyed opposition determined to keep their exploitation safe. Nevertheless, Wilberforce finds the inspiration in newfound love to rejuvenate the fight with new ideas that would lead to a great victory for social justice.

Ioan Gruffudd - William Wilberforce
Romola Garai - Barbara Spooner
Benedict Cumberbatch - William Pitt
Albert Finney - John Newton
Michael Gambon - Lord Charles Fox
Rufus Sewell - Thomas Clarkson
Youssou N'Dour - Olaudah Equiano
Ciarán Hinds - Lord Tarleton
Toby Jones - Duke of Clarence
Nicholas Farrell - Henry Thornton
Sylvestra Le Touzel - Marianne Thornton
Jeremy Swift - Richard the Butler
Stephen Campbell Moore - James Stephen
Bill Paterson - Lord Dundas
Nicholas Day - Sir William Dolben

Taglines: One voice changed the lives of millions


Official Website: Official site | Official site [Japan] |

Release Date: 23 February 2007

Filming Locations: Ashridge Park, Little Gaddesden, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Opening Weekend: $4,054,542 (USA) (25 February 2007) (791 Screens)

Gross: $27,213,386 (Worldwide)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | USA:  | Canada: (Toronto International Film Festival)

Did You Know?

During the conversation between Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce it is questioned how a person can remain loyal to a king who shakes hands with an oak tree and see Germany through his telescope. The quote, spoken by Clarkson, is a reference to King George III who, by the contemporary belief of history and scientific research, was known to have suffered from porphyria which was possibly provoked by his use of arsenic.

Factual errors: The House of Commons sat in the St Stephens chamber of the Palace of Westminster at the time. It is a long, narrow room, not the debating chamber shown in the film

Pitt the Younger: [to Lord Fox] You always look more at home when you're doing something devious.

User Review

Truly Moving Picture

Rating: 10/10

I saw this film on October 10th, 2006 in Indianapolis. I am one of the judges for the Heartland Film Festival's Truly Moving Picture Award. A Truly Moving Picture "…explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life." Heartland gave that award to this film.

This is an inspiring story based on a legendary historical British Member of Parliament, William Wilberforce. During the late 18th century and early 19th century, a very young Wilberforce is elected to Parliament and over the course of several decades leads the fight to ban slavery.

Today this seems like an easy, obvious and intuitive decision. But this was not so 200 years ago. The film clearly explains the entrenched economic motives and the political motives for slavery. Wilberforce starts out as almost a force of one and slowly builds abolitionist momentum by brilliant oratory, political maneuvers, and appealing to his fellow man's better nature.

Ioan Gruffudd is totally believable in explaining to the audience the complexity and heroism of Wilberforce. Wilberforce over the course of his life is sickly and strong, religious and worldly, naive and romantic, and idealistic and practical.

During the course of this mostly political story, we get to see the immense cruelty shown to the captured Africans turned into slaves. We are shown the slave sailing ships where the captured are treated inhumanely and die of starvation, neglect, disease, and filth. Man's inhumanity to man was never worse.

Wilberforce is a great man of history even though mostly forgotten today. He respected his fellow man regardless of their station in life. He was always willing to sacrifice his life and health to help others. And his compassion and spirit was always masked by his humility. He is a hero for all ages.

This is a period piece and you are lost in it because of the attention to detail. The sets, art direction, and costumes allow you to totally suspend disbelief and be moved by the story.

FYI – There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.


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