The legacy of William Wilberforce is tied to his relationship with John Newton. John Newton, an ex-slave trader turned minister and abolitionist, wrote the lyrics for the hymn “Amazing Grace” and became Wilberforce's spiritual counselor. He set his young protégé on the path of service to humanity. It was only after Wilberforce underwent what he later described as his "great change" or embrace of Christianity, that he became a reformer. Newton knew this to be true, and invoking the deliverance language of the Old Testament Book of Esther, told Wilberforce that it was "for such a time as this" that he had been placed in a position as a powerful Member of Parliament to secure the abolition of the slave trade. It was in the House of Commons,
I waited nearly a year after the release of "Amazing Grace" to watch it - that was how long it took to hit the video rental stores. This Bristol Bay Production is an extremely well-written and uplifting historical film about one of the greatest post-Reformation heroes in Church history.
Go rent it. You’ll be glad you did, and you just might learn enough about British colonial history to impress people at cocktail parties.
The story follows the personal life and career of William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd), a young Christian politician in 18th century
In a touching scene early in the movie, Wilberforce is shown sprawled in the grass behind his country estate, quietly telling God, “I feel like I need to run away to spend time with you…I’d much rather just sit out here and contemplate a spider’s web [than work in politics] for hours!” When discovered a few minutes later by Richard the
The inspiration behind Wilberforce’s driving passion was John Newton (Albert Finney), a minister who had once been captain of several slave ships. During a storm,
Several other historical abolitionists who encouraged and worked alongside Wilberforce were portrayed in the cast, including the somewhat social-anarchist Thomas Clarkson. In the movie, he and Wilberforce get into an argument over the impending French Revolution (which Clarkson supports), but Wilberforce admonishes him never to talk about revolt ever again in his hearing. Loyal to the crown until the end of his life, violence and social upheaval were abhorrent to the idealist Wilberforce, who preferred to reform society by appealing to its sense of conscience and decency.
As interesting and edifying as the movie was, I was a bit disappointed that the script didn’t focus more on
The stress of constant travel, speaking and fighting 20 years unsuccessfully against slavery (upon which the
Wilberforce continued to fight for abolition until, days before his death in 1833, he saw the institution of slavery abolished throughout the British colonies. This is a wonderful, uplifting movie about a true hero for Christ, and includes a video of Chris Tomlin performing the medley “Amazing Grace/My Chains Are Gone”.