Amazing Grace Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
Released during Black History Month, Amazing Grace is an unheralded gem. Set in the eighteenth century, it tells the story of a young, English parliamentarian who took on the slavery trade.
William Wilberforce (Ioan Grufford), a talented singer and gifted orator, has a soft spot in his heart for animals, the underclass and beggars who come seeking a meal at his country estate. At 21 years of age, he is voted in as a member of the British legislature. As newly elected officials, he and his long-time friend, William Pitt (Benedict Cumberbatch), who goes on to become the country’s youngest ever serving Prime Minister, are idealistic and eager to generate social change. Motivated by the song Amazing Grace—written by a former slave ship captain turned preacher (Albert Finney)—William takes on the overwhelming mission of abolishing the human trade business that fills the government’s coffers with plenty of gold.
As is to be expected, it is not a popular position to take. Members of the opposition want to override the bill rather than face the social implications. Grossly outnumbered, William begins the laborious task of winning over other members of parliament by appealing to their better natures. He is assisted in his mission by a group of itinerant religious leaders (Rufus Sewell, Youssou N’Dour, Georgie Glen) who also speak out about the vile inhumanities inflicted on the slaves.
But success doesn’t come easily or quickly and William pays a heavy price for his efforts. Losing his singing voice from shouting in the House of Commons, he also suffers from failing health and is prescribed opiates to ease the pain. Luckily, a passionate and educated young woman (Romola Garai), who becomes his bride after a whirlwind courtship, reaches out to rescue him. Buoyed up by her love and support, William resumes the tedious, uphill fight.
Bringing a balanced perspective to the screen, the script explores not only the horrors of the slave trade but also the political and business reasons that made it so hard to eradicate. For many of those who supported William and his group, it was career suicide.
Along with infrequent profanities and several racial slurs, the film depicts some disturbing descriptions of slave mistreatment both onboard the ships and on the auction blocks. Yet for teens and adults, the movie offers powerful insights into the single-mindedness of one man bent on raising the social consciousness of a country. (William also became an advocate for improved working conditions for the poor, called for public education opportunities and spoke out against animal cruelty.) In turn, audiences will likely find themselves applauding the tireless efforts of this man and his growing group of abolitionists who ignited an amazing change.Starring Ioan Gruffudd, Albert Finney. Running time: 117 minutes. Theatrical release February 22, 2007. Updated March 17, 2009
Rating & Content Info
Why is Amazing Grace rated PG? Amazing Grace is rated PG by the MPAA thematic material involving slavery, and some mild language
With only a PG rating, this film contains fewer content concerns than many others dealing with this difficult topic. Still, there are disturbing and graphic discussions of the slave trade and conditions on the slave ships. Some brief portrayals of slave abuse are also seen along with the cruel beating of an animal. To deal with his declining health, a patient is prescribed the medicinal use of opiates. Social drinking is shown on frequent occasions and in another instance, a man appears to be drunk. The script uses infrequent mild profanities and occasional racial slurs.
Page last updated March 17, 2009
Amazing Grace Parents' Guide
Slavery becomes a hot political topic in the British Parliament with many legislatures seeming to vote according to their party lines rather than personal conscience. What issues may have a similar effect on current politicians? Are there subjects that should be above party lines?
What costs did the elimination of the slave trade pose for ship owners, the government’s treasury and invested interests? Who else would have had their livelihood threatened? What difficulties would the slaves themselves face?
Persistence leads to change by small degrees. What sacrifices does William Wilberforce make for the cause he believes in? Who else makes similar commitments? What would you be willing to do for a cause you believe in?
For more information and a study guide for teachers, visit this film’s official website at www.amazinggracemovie.com.
The most recent home video release of Amazing Grace movie is November 12, 2007. Here are some details…
DVD Release Dates: 13 November 2007
Amazing Grace resonates on DVD with the following bonus materials: An audio commentary with director Michael Apted and actor Ioan Gruffudd, How Sweet the Sound: The Story of Amazing Grace (a half-hour documentary), Finding Freedom (a tour of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center that exposes some modern-day slavery practices) and a music video featuring Chris Tomlin’s version of Amazing Grace. The disc also provides interactive discussion tools and study guides that can be printed out for use in classrooms or bible study groups. The movie is presented in widescreen format with audio tracks in Dolby Digital 5.1 (English) and subtitles in English, Spanish and French.
Related home video titles:
Released in 1977, the miniseries Roots tells the story of Africans captured and shipped across the sea as slaves. Both Freedom Song (which portrays four African-American university students who challenged segregation by sitting at a white lunch counter in Mississippi) and Something the Lord Made (that depicts medical discoveries made by an African-American), deal with the lingering prejudices faced by the descendents of former slaves.