Amazing Grace

User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 47 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 47
  2. Negative: 2 out of 47
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  1. ChadS.
    Mar 16, 2007
    5
    As William Wilberforce(Ioan Gruffudd) lectures from aboard the slave-ship Madagascar, his floating audience(they're in an adjacent rowboat) cover their noses with handkerchiefs. Wilberforce instructs them to remove their cloths and breathe in "the smell of death". "Amazing Grace", however, holds its own nose to the historical stench of forced labor by largely keeping slavery As William Wilberforce(Ioan Gruffudd) lectures from aboard the slave-ship Madagascar, his floating audience(they're in an adjacent rowboat) cover their noses with handkerchiefs. Wilberforce instructs them to remove their cloths and breathe in "the smell of death". "Amazing Grace", however, holds its own nose to the historical stench of forced labor by largely keeping slavery off-screen. The only major black character, Oloudaqh(Youssou N'Dour), doesn't even get to speak. In a film about his ancestry, N'Dour is almost a token. He doesn't even get to sing the title song(at least Mahalia Jackson sings in Douglas Sirk's "Imitation of Life"). Worst yet, Oloudaqh is a profiteer(his slave narrative sells 50,000 copies). He has no rousing "give me free" moment(Djimon Honsou in "Amistad"), just a few silent tears rolling down his cheek. So we're largely stuck with the do-gooder Wilberforce, who is undoubtedly a great man; but as written in this well-meaning film, this earnest samaritan is more symbol than man. It's flaws that brings a character to life. Oskar Schindler was a womanizer. Wilberforce had bad stomach aches. He also says irritating things like, "How can we live in houses like this, while they live in boxes." "Amazing Grace" has one very effective flashback that shows how ugly institutionalized racism is; but it's not enough, not if you're going to canonize Wilberforce with a standing ovation as the musical score swells into histrionics. After all, Wilberforce never actually had to wear those manacles and leg braces. Expand
  2. AndrewK.
    Mar 31, 2007
    6
    I thought this was a pretty average film. Not bad, not great (I guess that would leave "good" as a description, but I wouldn't exactly call it required viewing). I think most people have either given this film way too good of a review, or have been way too harsh. It's really straight down the middle. Most of the movies out right now are utter crap, so if you want to see I thought this was a pretty average film. Not bad, not great (I guess that would leave "good" as a description, but I wouldn't exactly call it required viewing). I think most people have either given this film way too good of a review, or have been way too harsh. It's really straight down the middle. Most of the movies out right now are utter crap, so if you want to see something that is worth your time, this would be a good one to see. Some good points have been made about the lack of actual slaves in the film, and it struck me as odd that I barely noticed. I think it may have had something to do with the fact that I believed these characters to be very far away from the subject which they were addressing. I don't know if it's historically accurate, but I think their absense helped enforce the feeling that many of the men in parliament COULD be incredibly detached from the lives of those they were impacting. An inspiring film? I guess. If you haven't seen a lot of films like this before. Or if you are inspired by every single movie that sets out to inspire. It's nothing new. It IS a story that I was unfamiliar with, and I'm glad to have learned something about it, if not in great detail. All of the acting was superb. Nothing to complain about there. Sometimes the dialogue was a little too precious, but not often enough to make me gag. I thought it was interesting how they chose to end the film with Amazing Grace being played by...a band? I'm not sure what term to use. Anyway, it was different. You first see clips of all of the actors with their name and their character's names, and then you're actually watching the...band...play in front of...I think it was Westminster Abbey. And I wasn't too sure whether they were supposed to be within the context of the film, or if it was present day. But it didn't really matter. Anyway, I could take it or leave it. You should too. Expand
  3. DeWayneP.
    Mar 10, 2007
    5
    I must admit it was a disappointment. There were so many things wrong about this film that simple corrections could have jolted this film back to life... 1) The film wasn't put into any global historical context. When the dates flash upon the screen setting each English period, most of those dates and events overlapped and coexisted with America's ongoing conflict and debates on I must admit it was a disappointment. There were so many things wrong about this film that simple corrections could have jolted this film back to life... 1) The film wasn't put into any global historical context. When the dates flash upon the screen setting each English period, most of those dates and events overlapped and coexisted with America's ongoing conflict and debates on slavery. They could have descreetly noted these events along with the dates, without changing tone of this English based film. Some of these references could have pointed out the beginnings of the American revolutionary conflict with England, which would have been beneficial for British and American audiences who really don't understand our histories and problems were intertwined at that period. And for American audiences, I think it would have been especially important to note these historical overlaps, as well as incorporate how these cases challenged America's legal system to see slavery ultimately as a immoral instititutiion. 2) If the movie was trying to show us that the English were in such a moral upheaval about slavery, then why wasn't there any blacks and slaves present in the film??? Even slaves actively walking the streets??? The movie basically only show two??? Hiistorically, black slaves were all over England during this period, slaves were everywhere, because they were used to build England's financial instititutions, so how could none be seen in this film? Because this was done, logically it became consistant...the question then is asked, why would the British be so upset and go out of their way to ban it if it's not something they don't see on a day-to-day basis??? The truth of the matter is they were so upset about slavery because slavery was everywhere, and it had permeated itself in all walks of British life that it appalled them, and forced them to address it's morality implications of owning people... In addition, when England outlawed slavery and the American Revolution was in full bloom, England enticed American slaves and free blacks to fight along side England, aganist a rouge American government that still supported slavery. The one black that was depicted 'Olaudah Equiano,' in England at that time, he was so popular that today he would have been compared to Barack Obama in popularity, people travelled far and wide to hear him speak, but alas he was depicted as playing in a subpar supporting role crying!!?? How were you going to reach a black audience by telling that story? And by doing so, the film ending up distorts the truth in history itself... Should I go on??? PS: Oh, btw the acting was excellent! Expand
Metascore
65

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Michael Apted's Amazing Grace is a beautifully chiseled blunt instrument. No, it's not subtle, but how subtle was slavery?
  2. Reviewed by: Eddie Cockrell
    70
    Picture reflects the no-nonsense storytelling skills of prolific helmer Michael Apted, whose career-long mix of feature and documentary work holds him in good stead once more.
  3. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    50
    Morally irreproachable and flat as a pancake.