20 November 2007

amazingly graceful

I recently watched the DVD of Amazing Grace. It stars Ioan Gruffudd (pronounced "Griffith," for us Anglophones) as William Wilberforce. Gruffudd is also known as "Mr. Fantastic," the stretchy genius from the Fantastic Four. It also stars Albert Finney as John Newton, the slave ship captain turned Christian minister.

Early in the movie, we see Wilberforce's reaction to a man beating his horse, which is lying on the ground, completely exhausted. Besides being the driving force behind the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, Wilberforce was also behind efforts to end cruelty to animals. (His house is an animal hospital in itself.)

Finney's John Newton has some memorable quotes. When speaking of how he's haunted by the ghosts of 20,000 slaves whose names he doesn't know, he recalls how he and his crew didn't speak to the Africans; they ordered them around by grunting at them. "We were apes," he cries, "they were human." And after he loses his sight, he says to Wilberforce, "'I once was blind, but now I see.' Didn't I write that?" Wilberforce says, "Yes, you did." And he replies, "Now at last it's true."

I told my wife that it's a very good movie, with only a tiny bit of cheese! There is a bit of sentimentality in it, but not enough to spoil it.

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