Reviewed by Peter DeHaan
The movie Amazing Grace (2006) is a compelling and moving account of the efforts of William Wilberforce at social reform, specifically ending slave trade in the United Kingdom. His fight for abolition was a life-long effort (and only fully realized three days before his death). Taking on the full Parliament, Wilberforce at first stood alone, sacrificing his health and friendships for what he believed to be right. Gradually picking up support, he and a small team slowly move the process forward, garnering the backing of many of the people, but making little inroads with the legislature. It was through a cunning political ploy that the Slave Trade Act was passed in 1807.
This is an inspiring chronicle of what one man, committed to a cause, can accomplish over time and through perseverance. What might comprise a mere paragraph in history texts is expanded in this film to add depth and color to the character of the man and the causes he believed in. What the film makes clear is that his fight was neither quick nor painless; doing what is right seldom is.
Perhaps most meaningful is the vivid narrative of the horrors of how slaves were treated, disregarded, and exploited. Sparing the audience from gratuitous scenes of slave torture and abuse, the dialogue suitably communicates the depths of inhumanity to which humanity had sunk.