It could have been exceedingly dull, and the film occasionally becomes sanctimonious while Wilberforce is disturbingly virtuous and Blair-like at times, but nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised at how well Apted told the story, and found it entertaining and so stirring that at times I was nearly moved to tears.
Apart from a few short scenes of the horrific conditions the slaves had to endure, we are treated to a visually sumptuous late 18th-century period piece, excellent performances (including by Youssou N’Dour as a former slave), a romance, and surprisingly enough, even humour. Oh, and of course, a few rousing renditions of Amazing Grace.
The film is a well-crafted and inspiring story about a man with conviction and conscience, an idealist who had faith in what he believed was the right thing to do, and against all odds, finally achieved it, shaping history. The world sorely needs more William Wilberforces today, and if you are looking for an uncomplicated, inspiring, feel-good family film, then this is it.
- Roy McKenzie
Despite the serious and moralistic subject matter, this is actually an entertaining and enthralling period piece.
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