The story behind the song

March 06, 2007|by DARCY SHULL


Picture this: You are in church. As everyone stands for the next hymn, you recognize the song in just a few notes from the organ, and you all begin to sing "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound."

Sure, you've known that song practically your whole life. But do you know who wrote it? Or what it means? I bet not.

The song is now the theme of the movie "Amazing Grace," which tells a story of one man's life and his fight for the abolition of the British slave trade in the late 1700s and early 1800s.


The film starts with a carriage being drawn through the pouring rain. It pulls up to a house, and out steps our main character, William Wilberforce, who is an abolitionist - an opponent of slavery - during the time of the slave trade. Wilberforce is being treated for a critical illness while staying with his cousin and is constantly haunted by his memories of his earlier days in the House of Commons, where he argued passionately for equality among men.

As we soon find out, Wilberforce had been one of the most powerful abolitionists in Britain 15 years earlier, but he had repeatedly been opposed by the Duke of Clarence. On top of the political pressure, Wilberforce's best friend, William Pitt, wants to run for prime minister with Wilberforce at his side. But Wilberforce, having just found faith in God, wants to devote his life to the church.

Seeking advice from his old preacher, John Newton, former captain of a slave ship, and writer of the song "Amazing Grace," Wilberforce is quickly convinced that he can do both.

"Amazing Grace" is a touching movie. Popular French singer Youssou N'Dour perfectly portrays a former slave, and Ioan Gruffudd is great as Wilberforce. The music is fantastic as are the late-18th-century costumes and sets. The stunning costumes earn five stars for authenticity. The sets are equally exquisite.

I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes historical fiction or just wants to see an amazing movie.

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