Amazing Grace

  • Review Date: November 12, 2007
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 111 minutes

Common Sense Media says

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

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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

Consumerism
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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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
Genre:Drama
Topics:History
Run time:111 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:thematic material involving slavery, and some mild language.

This review of Amazing Grace was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written bysashadew April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

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.
Adult Written bysugarpuff March 22, 2011
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

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
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential School Tools