Amazing Grace: The William Wilberforce Story is hitting theaters nationwide today.
The newest release from Bristol Bay Productions, which comes just at the end of Black History Month, depicts one mans journey to bring about the abolishment of slavery in the British Empire and draws attention to the modern day slave trade.
The film is critical in that it highlights the life of a forgotten hero. Although Wilberforces struggles led to the equality of all men, a trait seen today, he is largely unknown among American audiences.
Wilberforce changed the world and, as such, has been a great inspiration to many who seek to make a difference in the world, explained Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Director of World Evanglical Alliance, in an Op-Ed on The Christian Post. Unfortunately, while a great hero to some, Wilberforce is simply not on the radar of most people today.
The new movie depicts the anti-slavery actions of Wilberforce in detail. It shows the difficulties and failures that resulted. The abolitionist could not easily reach the Parliament of which he was a part of, and it took 20 years and crafty planning to make ground on the issue. Through Wilberforces efforts, which cost him his health, many people in America were able to gain freedom.
The film is also a testament to Wilberforces faith. Following his conversion to Christianity late in life, Wilberforce felt called to aid the enslaved Africans, who he also saw as Gods children.
Wilberforces Christianity meant action, noted prominent evangelical Chuck Colson in a recent commentary. His fiercely unpopular crusade against the slave trade consumed his health and cost him politicallybut he could not stand idly by and see the imago Dei, the image of God, enslaved and abused in the holds of ships.
In honor of the movie, tens of thousands of people sang the hymn Amazing Grace in churches worldwide as part of Amazing Grace Sunday on Feb. 18. The song was a means to commemorate the abolition of slavery in England as well as speak out against current modern day slave trade.
According to the U.S. State Department, there are an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people worldwide currently trafficked by force or coercion each year, with the majority being women and children.
There is even still a problem n the United States where about 14,500 and 17,500 people are sold.
The new film stars Ioan Gruffudd (Black Hawk Down), Albert Finney (Erin Brockovich), Romola Garai (Vanity Fair), and Michael Gambon (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban).
Bristol Bay Productions, the film company that brough Ray to the big screen, is part of Walden Media, responsible for the blockbuster The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
On the web: Amazing Grace website.