Amazing Grace or Disgrace?

analytical Essay
1211 words
1211 words

Imagine living in the 1700s when slavery was a normal part of people’s everyday lives. Would you be for slavery, or against it? People in today’s society would denounce slavery as cruel or inhumane. But in the eighteenth century, most of the western society accepted slavery and the slave trade. It took heroic efforts be brave, dedicated political leaders to eventually turn the tables. Amazing Grace is a historical film that depicts the life and work of British politician and abolitionist campaigner William Wilberforce. The film takes place in Britain between 1780 and the early 1800s, during which Wilberforce was working to write and pass a bill to abolish the slave trade. While watching this historical film, one might automatically assume that the events presented accurately illustrate Wilberforce and his work to abolish the trade of enslaved Africans. After much research and speculation, it can be determined that most of the scenes, people and history depicted in this film were for the most part accurately portrayed. However, filmmakers ignored small details, such as dates and important background information, and chose to make severe changes to the overall plot of the story that altered the historical accuracy of the film as a whole.

Beginning as a popular and determined Member of Parliament, or MP, William Wilberforce was eventually persuaded by his friends William Pitt, Thomas Clarkson, and Olaudah Equiano to fight the dangerous issue of the British slave trade. Taking on a sudden interest in the matter, Wilberforce became very disliked within the House of Commons amongst the other MPs in favor of the slave trade. Because of this unpopularity, as well as his stress and frustration with the British Parliament, Wilberforce be...

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...he National Centre for History. Web. 07 Nov. 2011. .

Amazing Grace Dir. Michael Apted. Perf. Ioan Gruffudd, Romola Garai, Benedict Cumberbatch, Albert Finney. Samuel Goldwyn Films, 2006.

Laurier, Joanne. "Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Struggle to End the British Slave Trade." World Socialist Web Site. Web. 07 Nov. 2011. .

Rogers, Al. "Amazing Grace: The Story of John Newton." Anointed Christian Links - Each with a Jar of Anointing Oil. Web. 07 Nov. 2011. .

"The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The 18th Century: Topic 2: Texts and Contexts." Home | W. W. Norton & Company. Web. 07 Nov. 2011. .

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the film amazing grace depicts the life and work of british politician and abolitionist campaigner william wilberforce.
  • Narrates how wilberforce was persuaded by his friends william pitt, thomas clarkson, and olaudah equiano to fight the dangerous issue of the british slave trade.
  • Analyzes how wilberforce is projected as a flawless character with nothing but greatness thrust upon him. the film fails to fully recognize the other heroic political figures that assisted william with his bill.
  • Analyzes how the hymn "amazing grace" was appropriately sung multiple times throughout the duration of the film. the tune was not put with the verses until about 1830, almost 20 years after wilberforce's bill was passed.
  • Explains that when john newton and william wilberforce are reunited in 1790 for the second time, john has gone completely blind and is being assisted with writing his confession.
  • Analyzes how the filmmakers struggled with accuracy and precision of specific dates and times of historical happenings, but also left out the significance of important characters throughout the film.
  • Analyzes the inaccuracies of amazing grace, stating that the film relies on stereotypes and the audience's prior knowledge rather than the building of complex plots or characters.
  • Analyzes how amazing grace fails to examine the complex set of global dynamics that created the sense that slavery was morally unsustainable.
  • Cites a review of the movie 'amazing grace' by michael apted, perf. ioan gruffudd, romola garai, benedict cumberbatch, albert finney.
  • Describes the norton anthology of english literature: the 18th century: topic 2: texts and contexts.
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