Amazing Grace

It has occurred to me that England probably has about 50 top movie stars. That's why we recognize so many of them each time a new movie comes out. At least in this movie they are in England, speaking English, and playing Englishmen, instead of showing up our blokes from The Colonies again pretending to be from this side of the Pond.

This one boasts Ioan Gruffudd ("The Forsyte Saga" and "Horatio Hornblower"), CiarĂ¡n Hinds ("Persuasion" and "Rome" - he was Julius Caesar), Toby Jones ("Infamous" and "Ever After"), Albert Finney ("Tom Jones" and "Erin Brockovich"), Michael Gambon ("Gosford Park" and "Longitude"), and Rupert Graves ("The Illusionist" and "The Forsyte Saga") ...familiar faces, all!

This is the true story of the cleric/politician William Wilberforce, who fought British slave trading most of his career. He was troubled by chronic ill health, but was singlemindedly devoted to the cause. Prime Minister William Pitt was a chum from their early manhood and the two of them connived, counted votes, campaigned and generally fought the good fight up to and including victory, which took decades of frustrating and unrelenting struggle. Albert Finney plays John Newton, the reformed slave trader who becomes a part-time cleric, doing penance for the lives he destroyed through his enterprises. He is also the gentleman who wrote the classic song, "Amazing Grace." (Which, by the way, can be played by using only the black keys on the piano.)

This is a nice movie and you learn a lot about the history of Great Britain (it too, was built on the backs of slaves) and the legal maneuvers Parliament went through as it inched its way toward finally prohibiting it. His plea for concluding the war with the Colonies is an interesting one and it is greeted with unanimous jeers. I appreciate this film much more on DVD because I have had the luxury of closed captions to help me understand the nuances of the lawmaking process and his courtship of the lady who eventually became his wife and the mother of his children.

Gruffudd is a handsome fellow who is onscreen 95% of the time. Luckily, the camera loves his face. The actress playing his wife is a young woman named Romola Garai (I wonder if she too, is Welsh!); she is a beauty! I have never seen her before but hope to see her again soon. This time Rupert Graves isn't a handsome villain, but instead a devoted churchman who is part of the group of people dedicated to abolishing slavery. Rupert, I hardly knew ye!

Lots of rainy British weather, and NO blowie-uppie stuff!