Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Wilberforce of Nature

Christianity Today, an evangelical Christian magazine, just released its list of "The 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2006." The fact that "The Nativity" topped the list isn't exactly a press-stopper, but some of the other movies might surprise: "Children of Men," "The Three Burials of Mequiades Estrada" and "Charlotte's Web" all snagged places. And to illustrate what a new-release loser I am, I haven't seen a single film on the list. At least not yet.

I've already got a jump start on 2007's probable list, though. Last night I saw an advance screening of "Amazing Grace: The William Wilberforce Story," and I was pretty impressed.

Spoiler alert: William Wilberforce was a British Parliamentarian who, through eloquence, faith and pit-bull doggedness, pushed the British Empire to abandon the slave trade.

There, now you know.

But the point of the film is that everyone should know about this guy.

The film isn't exactly "Christian," in my estimation. This is a secular film that doesn't shy away from Wilberforce's Christian faith. It treats it as a powerful and legitimate motivator -- a prime mover in the elimination of one of Earth's prime evils -- but it's not out to proselytize. The film is produced by Bristol Bay Productions (the same folks behind the Ray Charles biopic "Ray") in conjunction with Walden Media, the Christian-tinged company that created the film adaptation of "Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Sure, Walden doesn't make films that run counter to its underlying values -- it'd never do a remake of "Scarface," for example -- but it's focus has always been on spinning a good yarn, not getting people to go to church.

And make no mistake, this is a darn good yarn -- in a PBS, men-wearing-wigs sort of way. I'll be writing a full review for The Gazette's Go! section closer to "Amazing Grace's" Feb. 23 release, but I'll give you an advancer: thumbs up.


Blogger Micheal said...

"...most Christian movies are preachy and maudlin and bad." And this movie isn't bad, so therefore isn't Christian. Huh?

Not having seen the movie, I have no idea if it's good, bad, Christian, or whatever, but that seems like a bit of a circle statement. For example, maybe "most Christian poems" read like bad Hallmark cards. That doesn't mean that Divine Comedy or Paradise Lost are therefore secular poems.

As far as prostyletizing goes, I'm glad that Wilburforce himself didn't hold that view. You note that "through eloquence, faith and pit-pull doggedness, [he] pushed the British Empire to abandon the slave trade." Sounds like "prostyletizing" to me.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Paul Asay said...

You know, on your first point, you're absolutely right. Attempt at humor gone awry. It's fixed now.

As far as prostyletizing goes, the film doesn't do it: You can draw your own conclusions as to whether Wilberforce did so or not.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Micheal said...

"Proselytize" means "to attempt to convert," which is exactly what Wilburforce did: he attempted to convert people away from a view that slavery is okay to a view that slavery is evil.

3:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home