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“Amazing Grace” is Good, but Lacks Grace

Scott on March 4, 2007 at 10:20 pm

I had the chance to see Amazing Grace this evening with my wife and daughter, along with my father-in-law, sister-in-law, and her husband. In case you haven’t heard of it, Amazing Grace tells the story of William Wilberforce, the British politician who worked from the late 1700′s into the 1800′s to have slavery outlawed in Great Britain and all of its colonies. It is an excellent story and one that should be told, not just to Christians but to all people. In it we see God’s love, grace and mercy being worked out in the lives of His children and how His people become the conduit for His grace as it is worked out in the unfolding of history.

I will recommend this movie to many, but to be honest I wish I could recommend it more highly.

In short, the movie was just OK. The acting was decent. The settings were well chosen. The dialogue was fair. There were some really good moments, too. One of my favorites is when John Newton (former slave trader turned minister and author of the hymn Amazing Grace) tells William Wilberforce: “”My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things, that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.”

What bothers me is that the movie is just OK when it could have been much more than that. It falls flat at times and becomes lost in its own narrative. And I guess that is what bugs me the most the narrative itself isn’t clear. Significant characters come and go from scenes without it being clear why they are important or their role in the overall story. There are times when overdubbed narration is used but it isn’t used consistently, which is too bad because it could have been used effectively to fill in some of the gaps in the story and to provide background/color commentary. The story jumps back and forth in time without clear indications of when it is happening and what point is being illustrated. (This type of story telling can especially be confusing when one is watching a period piece that is already, by its very nature, a glimpse into the past.)

As I said, I will recommend this movie; but I will also recommend that anyone going to see it spend 20 minutes first reading a little bit about Wilberforce and his long struggle against slavery. The story will be much clearer and the lost narrative will not matter as much.

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Category: Movies |

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