I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Amazing Grace: The Movie

I finally went to see Amazing Grace. It moved me in ways I didn’t expect or really understand at the time. In a way, it reminded me of movies like Braveheart and Luther—movies that depict men who were willing to risk it all for a cause higher than themselves.

William Wilberforce, the central figure of Amazing Grace who was an abolitionist in the late 18th and early 19th century in England, put forth bills in Parliament to end slavery in 1791, 1792, 1793, 1797, 1798, 1799, 1804, and 1805. Finally in 1807, he gained enough momentum in Parliament to abolish the slave trade.

As I watched this story unfold, I developed a high admiration for Wilberforce. He was in the minority opinion for so long, but he pressed on because he knew he was right. His health suffered as a result of his efforts and the movie depicts him as single man on the edge of defeat when he meets a woman name Barbara in 1797. She believed in his cause. That gave him great hope and seemed to reinvigorate him. Within weeks, they were married.

The movie shows them looking at each other as the final votes were tallied in 1807 to abolish the slave trade. Stunned disbelief and joy spread across their faces as soon as they realized that they had enough votes to win.

I kept finding myself emotionally overwhelmed as I watched this movie. I really didn’t understand why and I didn’t want to try to figure it out at the time. I just wanted to stay in the moment. But I’ve had some time to think about it and I have an idea about what moved me so much.

Wilberforce didn’t really fit in with the political world of his day. At times he felt isolated because of his views, but he kept plugging away anyway. I’m not a politician, but I used to be heavily involved in politics. The problem is, I’m nowhere near the political left or right in the U.S. today. So in some small way, I can relate with what Wilberforce felt. And I felt challenged to reengage in the political world.

Wilberforce was single until he was 37—presumably because he was a bit immature and because he was so involved in his cause that he hadn’t taken the time to get married. At the age of 40, I can relate to this as well. I don’t think I was ready for marriage until about five or six years ago. But now I’d love to experience what Wilberforce had with Barbara.

Finally, Wilberforce seemed to live with the future in mind. He was confident that he would live to see the abolition of slavery one day, so he kept building alliances, doing research, and using his position in the Parliament as a way to influence people. I love his way of thinking and it’s something that I’ve been trying to develop in my own life in recent years.

This is a movie that I’ll definitely purchase when it comes out on DVD.


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