Amazing Grace Film Gets Historical Facts 'Mostly Right'

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By Kevin Donovan, Christian Post Reporter
January 4, 2007|8:03 am

The author who chronicled the life of John Newton, writer of the widely-known song “Amazing Grace,” recently pre-screened and critiqued the upcoming movie Amazing Grace by Bristol Bay Productions.

Christine Schaub's best-selling novel The Longing Season, chronicles the life of John Newton and the story behind his most beloved hymn. The novel is renowned for its historical accuracy, a result that came from painstaking research.

“I sat in the movie theatre, staring at the screen with more than a little bit of worry,” Schaub reflected. “Walden Media's film Amazing Grace had been playing for forty minutes, and John Newton was about to make his entrance. Would the filmmakers get it right? Or would they perpetuate the myth?

“Turns out, Walden got it mostly right,” she continued. “They cast the great Albert Finney as Newton, roughed him up and had him mopping his church floors. I suppose they thought an old preacher in sackcloth was more convincing as a former slave-trader. In truth, Newton was rather refined, but liked to refer to his former wretched self as an example of what God's life-changing power can do. Finney, however, is brilliant in the role.”

In addition, Schaub noted that the movie does a “good job” explaining that the commerce of slave trading was not a moral issue to the majority of Britons.

However, she added that the filmmakers' “greatest error” is having the movie's central figure William Wilberforce introduce his impromptu singing of "Amazing Grace" with an attribute to "...my old preacher-friend who was a slave ship captain for twenty years...," which she claims is not true.

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Amazing Grace, opening in theatres Feb. 23, stars Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer) as William Wilberforce, the man who championed the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.

 

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