Saturday, 23 January 2010

Amazing Grace

I don't do film reviews very often, as you've maybe noticed. However, this film certainly deserves a mention. I'm not much of a movie person, so the fact that I've watched it four times in a week should tell you this film is something special. The fact that I have also been inspired enough by it to write a novel on similar lines should tell you that it's exceptional. The only film I've watched before that's been enough to do that was Top Gun. I don't know whether this one will finish or not, but at the moment, I'm enjoying writing it.

So, what's so special about Amazing Grace? The trouble is, when my Mum asked me this, after telling her that we needed to keep it out the library for another week so I could watch it again, I couldn't actually explain fully. The story just resonated with me. William Wilberforce, lone voice for justice in a hostile world, standing up for his principles. When I was younger, living in America, one of my favourite things to read about was how slaves escaped their masters, how they gained their freedom, how the Civil War brought emancipation. I didn't know a whole lot about it from an English point of view. I think I have to say that a children's book about Harriet Tubman was the first historical non-fiction I ever read. I even did a book box on it in school (can't remember what grade, I think 2nd or maybe 3rd). I built a model of the boat she used to help the slaves escaped, and I couldn't believe how amazing she was. So slavery as a topic is clearly something that speaks to me. I suppose another side to the explanation of why I loved this film so much was because it was historical fiction, and the period is around what we've been studying recently at college--we're looking at Ireland and Catholic Emancipation, which happened in the same period. Apparently O'Connell, who we're looking at just now (although not in the film) was one of Wilberforce's supporters. Then there was the fact that the way the story was told, the way the campaign fell to a low point and Wilberforce felt like he'd failed, and then there was that fantastic revival, that just clicked. I don't know. I can't tell you for certain whether it was one of those, or some other factor that really got the film into my head. What I can tell you was that it takes its place amongst my favourite ever movies, which include: The Dark Knight, Top Gun, Fireproof, and Over the Hedge. Quite an eclectic selection, I will concede. Taking Top Gun apart, I think the one thing I can see in common with all of them is a flawed hero, someone driven who pushes themselves to reach the goal they need. Well, maybe Over the Hedge less so, but I love the story behind it. Tough, free wheeling guy suddenly realises that maybe a family is worth more than he ever imagined... Anyway, Amazing Grace is a brilliant film and I highly recommend it. It gets in your head and I am certainly going to be looking into the life of William Wilberforce. I think it might just have revived an interest in that particular aspect of history...

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