Saturday, March 03, 2007

Amazing Grace - The Movie

Rising above the drivel that constitutes most of what passes for movies these days comes an amazing movie - Amazing Grace. I saw the movie this afternoon and it is an incredibly well done and moving piece of art.

Everyone is familiar with the beloved hymn Amazing Grace by John Newton. While not really a movie about the hymn, it does include Newton as one of the characters and relates his powerful influence upon William Wilberforce, whose efforts led to the ending of the British slave trade. Wilberforce, powerfully portrayed by Ioan Gruffudd (Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic in the Fantastic 4), took on the incredibly entrenched slave trade of the British Empire and then went on to help foster many other important reforms in British society.

The movie shows very, very little of the horrors of slavery. Only one or two brief scenes portray slaves and what they endured; there are also a few graphic descriptions of the suffering of the slaves, mostly descriptions of what it was like aboard the slave ships. It's really hard to imagine, hearing such horrible descriptions, how human beings could treat other human beings in such a brutal manner.

One thought kept coming to my mind as I watched the movie. From our perspective, it's easy to see the evils of slavery and wonder how anyone could have justified slavery. It's certainly a blight upon the history of the Christian faith that so many Christian people used their religious faith and the Bible to support such a horrible practice. But what is there about our time that we cannot recognize as being wrong? In two hundred years, what will our descendants see about our own time that we cannot see? When it comes to the denial of rights to other people, there is - to me - one related parallel (I'll not mention it here but feel free to post a response about what you think it is). I'm not saying we are practicing anything as horrible as slavery, but I am saying that we are continuing social support for some practices that will be seen in subsequent years as wrong.

Anyway, take the time and go see the movie. The cast is wonderfully gifted and there are many, many tremendous performances. It's so easy to complain about the number of crappy movies being produced these days, but here's one that really delivers. I give it two thumbs way, way up.

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