I can not discuss the merits of the film.  To do so would require moving beyond the film’s effect on me, and I am not yet ready to do so.  If I reliquinsh criticism and surrender to mere promotion, then so be it.  I have no shame in praising Amazing Grace.

Wilberforce is a hero of the faith and a great man, and the movie captures his immense struggles with himself and with his mission.  The film depends upon characterization and dialogue, and both are effective.  I would suggest, however, that even if the critic judges them inadequate, the story of William Wilberforce is so powerful that it overwhelms any of the films failures. 

I left the theater contemplative, having watched the last 5 minutes with tears streaming down my face.  Wilberforce’s mission to eradicate slavery is at the center of God’s desire for justice and the well-being of all people, and the film does not blink at Wilberforce’s religious motivations for doing so. 

But even deeper, Wilberforce’s passion and single-minded devotion to his cause left an indelible mark, as did his shrewdness and ability to “play politics” for the cause of righteousness.  “Be wise as serpents,” Jesus admonished us.  Wilberforce and his crew were nothing less.

Amazing Grace is worth the price of admission.  It is a film that will outlive its box-office run and become a staple of family-viewing for years to come.  And we can only hope that through it God will form us into men and women with Wilberforce’s courage and conviction.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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