Saturday, March 03, 2007


Today, along with our little church group, we saw the film Amazing Grace. It is about the struggle to bring about Abolition of slavery in England during the late 1700's. This film seems to be a pretty accurate depiction of historical facts as far as I could tell after reviewing some historical data. The Slave Trade was important to England's Commodity market. The battle of 'William Wilberforce', to repeal the laws that kept it going, lasted for about 50 years of his life.

The films release into main stream movie theatres on 23Feb07, was to commemorate the 200 year anniversary of the passage of the outlawing of slave trading. Abolition was not well received by the majority of the Political figures in those days preceding. The main reason being that they earned their livelihood from the commodities shipped from the East Indies Islands where Slaves produced the Sugar and other goods. In other words they did not desire to upset their own apple carts.

William Wilberforce was also the person involved in the beginning of the Animal Humane Society, and its start of the world concern for animals. the film does show an assortment of animals around his home. One is a big brown Rabbit, that he corrects his friend with the proper term, 'Hare'.

William Wilberforce and his college friend William Pitt became young politicians, Members of Parliament, (MP) at about 21 years of age. William Pitt became Prime Minister at age 25, totally unheard of at that time. William Wilberforce experienced a spiritual Conversion after an early life as a Hedonistic Secular Humanist. By his early 20's it finally occurred to him to change his ways and that of his surrounding world. He thought the Ministry was the way. An old friend and early mentor, John Newton started to have an effect on Wilberforce. He urged him to stay in Politics, convincing him that the power to change the way things were done, lay in that field where he was most influential. 'John Newton' if you might know, was the writer of the song 'Amazing Grace', after his conversion to call on God for Saving Grace, during a storm where he feared his evil life was ending. He worked all his life as a Slave Trader and slave ship captain.

The story of the 'Amistad' is a also a great film to see if you want an idea of what the Slave Trade entailed. It was released in 1997 and is a true story from the rebellion and subsequent capture of the Slaves on that Spanish ship in 1839. Their story is told graphically in that film. It also involved a famous New England court trial in 1841.

John Newton's is another great story all of it's own. Check some history about him as well. This life should most definitely be told on the 'Big Screen' as well. Maybe now that the real world is being portrayed again, we will see some actual Intelligent films emerge from Hollywood. I used Wikipedia to verify some of the facts. Please go see this film, 'Amazing Grace', to understand what kind of men it took to rid the civilised world of this inhumanity to other humans. When something takes a lifetime to change, you realise what special talents some men have for patience in changing the mindset of others. William Wilberforce was portrayed as a man addicted to 'Laudanum' Which is an opiate. His withdrawal symptoms were shown at times. I found no mention of this in any of the quick references I used to write this post.

The film industry does wonders with its magical camera. One would think, you as person, were right there in those times as a witness to all of the happenings. The candle light and dark paneling in the House of Commons inner rooms are warm and cozy for sure. The fireplace looked like something very much appreciated in the dampness of England. The opening scene shows the drizzling rain, as ever present, and the carriage driven by the two men outside on top while the privileged Wilberforce and his friend William Pitt, come upon two men trying to whip a downed horse to it's feet.

Wilberforce stops to reason with them. His concern for animals is pointed out in that first scene. Wilberforce was the son of a merchant that worked in the Baltic trades. His wealth was from that trade, although he had no inclination to work it himself. I wondered when he was going to go to his job, he never did. He did spend a lot of time in the kitchen of his mansion on the old English Estate. His humanitarian efforts are relevant and shown during the feeding of the needy at his table. His cook is stressed to the breaking point some times. A 'Gentleman's Club' had a totally different meaning in those days. Frankly I would prefer that type. Gambling was something to pass the time in those days as well, some things never change. the 'Wigs' which they all wore, brings to mind a bit of trivia.

The term 'Big Wig' came from those days. the bigger the wig, the more money it cost, hence it indicated your value, as far as wigs were concerned any way. The poor Anglican Preacher, John Newton, had a really 'ratty' wig that he perfumed to cover its smell. People today seem to use other material goods to accomplish the same appearance. I believe that it was only recently that the 'Wigs' were made not mandatory, some traditions really have 'staying power'. Bald guys are as 'good' as hairy guys or gals when they all wore wigs.

During the scene where the 'Party ship' of 'the privileged, is slowly moving forward through the congested Liverpool Harbor, note the one man in the rowboat, pulling the ship. In the sailing days, the Tug was just that, but a crew of 4, 6, 8, or even more in the case of a heavily loaded Warship, was used. I doubt that one man could truly move that ship very well. Remember the highly recommended film from a few years back, starring Russell Crowe, 'Master and Commander'? OK, Jack Lalane maybe...

A little known historical fact, that totally ensured the ability of the 'Royal British Navy' to enforce those newly passed English Laws of 'Abolition of the Slave Trade', was the Historic 'Battle of Trafalgar' on 21 October1805. Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson and his fleet of 27 'ships of the line' (heavily armed fighting ships) devastated 33 French and Spanish 'ships of the line' at Cape Trafalgar in southwest Spain. The total British ships lost, was 0. The French and Spanish lost, 22 captured and 1 blown up. The British lost 449 dead, compared to the combined loss of 4,480 French, Spanish, dead. This was definitely the most significant Naval battle during the 'Napoleonic Wars. Britannia truly ruled the seas after that one. God works in mysterious ways...Now wouldn't that Historic Naval Battle make a great sailing ship movie, Russel Crowe (Master and Commander) and 'Captain Jack Sparrow', 'Johnny Depp', are you reading my blog? The world is now ready for some excellent films.

Have fun at the Movies, I sure do when 'Background Acting' in them, watch for Blogengeezer in the 'Wild Hogs' movie out this weekend as well. I am in the town of Madrid, driving my dirty black SUV with it's US flag flying, walking around in the carnival scene, dressed as an old, bearded, wannabe, 'Sturges biker' in black jeans and also at times, sitting on the porch in a Hawaiian shirt behind John Travolta. The dance floor scene with William H Macy and Marissa Tome was fun, I sat on a straw bale drinking beer. Now that's my kind of acting. Go to a movie, enjoy life, I found it sure beats the alternative.


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