About two weeks ago Keri and I enjoyed a rare chance to head out to a movie thanks to a gift card from work, so we saw Will Smith’s Pursuit of Happyness. It was not a bad movie, but was not as good as we had hoped. If you haven’t seen it, wait and rent it rather than shelling out the money at the cinema. What excited me much more than the feature presentation was the preview for a film called Amazing Grace, which is a biopic of William Wilberforce.
If you’re not familiar with William Wilberforce, now is a good time to meet him. He was a rising star in the British parliament in the eighteenth century whose career took a dramatic turn soon after he converted to Christianity. The singular focus of his career in Parliament was his unrelenting quest to end the British slave trade. Over decades he endured great opposition and lived to see his cause succeed. It also seems that John Newton figures prominently in the film as a friend who influenced Wilberforce over the years. Newton, of course, was a former slave trader who later converted to Christianity and is best remembered for compsosing the hymn “Amazing Grace” – hence the film’s name.
The movie is set to open on February 23rd – the time was chosen to mark the bicentennial of the abolition of British slavery. To their credit, the filmmakers are hoping that the movie will remind people that slavery still exists in some parts of the world to this day. For a couple of years I’ve had a biography of Wilberforce, A Hero for Humanity, by Kevin Belmonte, on my bookshelf. I’ve begun reading it in anticipation of the film. Belmonte, in fact, was the chief historical consultant for the project. I sure hope that the film does not minimize or completely disregard Wilberforce’s conversion and the Christian worldview and conviction that undergirded and motivated his heroic efforts.
Obviously, I’m really looking forward to this movie.