Amazing Grace



Earnest drama about fervent English abolitionist.
Parents recommend
  • Review Date: November 12, 2007
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 111 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Wilberforce is a good man struggling to abolish slavery; his political opponents describe slavery as "good business," even though the film repeatedly demonstrates the dehumanization and violence such "business" entails. Plenty of political wrangling and deal-making.


In the first scene, two men beat a horse (Wilberforce stops them); much discussion of slavery and physical abuse; Equiano shows a brand on his chest; metal torture and restraint devices inspire Wilberforce to work harder at abolition; flashback scene shows a child knocked by an explosion; Wilberforce and others describe or imagine slaves in chains and under duress. Wilberforce's poor health leads to some tense scenes.


Wilberforce dreams of a scene in which fully clothed couples embrace and cavort in a theater; minor flirting and kissing between Wilberforce and Barbara; she shows cleavage several times.


An overtly "bad" character uses the "N" word; other profanity is mild, including "ass," "hell," and "damn."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Pipe smoking; several scenes show social drinking (Wilberforce disparages drinking as a sign of low morals); Wilberforce takes an opium-based medicine (laudanum).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that a former slave and a former slave ship captain describe slavery in direct, no-holds-barred language. Flashbacks and dream sequences also involve slavery. A horse is beaten in an early scene. Instruments of physical abuse -- chains, restraints, clamps -- appear on screen. Men smoke pipes, and several characters drink liquor at parties and sometimes alone. Wilberforce suffers from colitis and takes opium-based medicine to treat it. Mild language ("hell" and "damn"), plus one very pointed use of the "N" word.

What's the story?

AMAZING GRACE follows the career of early British abolitionist/evangelical Christian William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd). As the film begins, Wilberforce is dismayed by England's moral decline and thinks that he might be better suited for religion than politics. Already renowned for his work within the abolitionist movement, he first appears commanding a mud-covered knave to stop beating his horse. Wilbeforce's pained face shows his physical capacity for empathy, a theme that comes up repeatedly in the film.

Is it any good?


As the sober and reverential film begins, Wilberforce appears commanding a mud-covered knave to stop beating his horse. Wilbeforce's pained face shows his physical capacity for empathy, a theme that comes up repeatedly in the film. A series of flashbacks shows how Wilberforce earned his reputation. Their opponents are unconditionally malevolent, especially the Duke of Clarence (Toby Jones), who's introduced as he instructs an underling to "Fetch my [the "N" word]" -- he wants to use his "property" to up the ante in a card game.

Wilberforce's visible horror at this gesture soon turns into inspiration: He decides to make his enemies in government see the evils they're perpetuating. This thematic connection to the song "Amazing Grace" (which Wilberforce sings passionately in one scene) informs the movie's own structure. The more Wilberforce "sees" -- through flashbacks and imagined visions pictured while remorseful slave ship captain/"Amazing Grace" composer John Newton (Albert Finney) recalls abusing and killing slaves -- the more dedicated he becomes to his work.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Wilberforce connects his religious calling with his political career. How is his work inspired by his faith? What is the significance of the song "Amazing Grace," both for the early (and lengthy) abolitionist movement, and, later, during the Civil Rights movement in the United States? Do you think the politicians that Wilberforce was up against liked slavery? If not, why did they continue to support the practice? How is the political lobbying and dealmaking of Wilberforce and his gang similar to what goes on in politics today? How is it different?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 23, 2007
DVD release date:November 13, 2007
Cast:Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Gambon, Romola Garai
Director:Michael Apted
Studio:Samuel Goldwyn Company
Run time:111 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:thematic material involving slavery, and some mild language.

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Adult Written bysugarpuff March 22, 2011

Good family movie, great for discussion and explanation.

I don't know how accurate the details are, but the message is clear. Any person who is passionate about a cause that makes this world a better place, can make a difference. Wilberforce was a man of convictions. He did not wait until he was middle aged to engage the world. He was serving in government at age 21. Most of our 21 year olds are playing video games.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 16 years old Written byMath-U April 9, 2008
Adult Written bysashadew April 9, 2008

Loved it

It stirs your heart and makes you want to do something. It shows the world is not a bad place and everyone has a place and no one is unknown. Any chance you get, you should watch it. Good for the whole family and it shows of how everyone has a heart and everyone is loved by God and everyone is equal in sight.


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