Sunday, September 09, 2007

Amazing Grace

The actors in this film were unaware of the story of William Wilberforce and even of John Newton. One wonders what is taught in schools today. No wonder people like Dawkins gets away with his claim that religion brings only misery and strife.

The Clapham Sect were a group of remarkable evangelical Anglicans who effected more social change in Nineteenth Century England than any other group - and since at that time England was the only world superpower, the influence was worldwide. Apart from the abolition of the slave trade, whose 200th anniversary this film and this year celebrates, their work led eventually to the emancipation of slaves, a land back in Africa for slaves who wanted to return (Sierra Leone), prison reform, free education and the establishment pf nursing (Florence Nightingale was the granddaughter of one of their members). Their zeal, perseverance, energy and philanthropy changed the world.

What about the movie? The young principals performed well, but were acted off the park by the two seniors, Albert Finney and Michael Gambon. The film was cheaply produced, without special effects and rather 'stagey'. This was the time of the American and French revolutions; we were given no sense of how close England came to suffering the same. We saw the shackles but no slaves. The TV series 'Roots' from many years ago showed us what life was like on the triangular passage; it could only be parsimony that deprived us of a similar visual shock.

I was looking forward to this film but I was disappointed in the result. The British parliament was portrayed as a unicameral affair with Lords and Commons taking part in the same debate. With such an economy with veracity, I didn't know how much of the story I could believe.

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