For comparison to the enduring classic below, I offer a brief commentary on a current favorite, "Amazing Grace". I went to the movie with high expectations, partly because of the story behind the authorship of that "amazing" hymn, and partly because I had heard so many good comments about the movie.
I would call it a "provocative" movie. Unfortunately, that description is far below the potential of so much great history. Amistad is a much better movie if one wants to experience the anguish of slaves, the hypocrisy of slavery proponents, and the diligence and commitment of the early abolitionists. Plus, it had Anthony Hopkins portraying John Quincy Adams in one of the most stirring speeches ever recorded on film. So, Amazing Grace suffers from comparison to a great film, but its problems go deeper than that, to the point of why "Rio Grande" yesterday made me yearn for the old days of entertainment.
That is, "Amazing" is a blatant agenda film against the Iraq War. Now, I wouldn't have minded that if I had gone in expecting to see that sort of thing. But the producers of this movie interlaced so many anti-war references into this film that it really detracted from the really noble cause that was (sort of) being portrayed. I won't go into the specifics, but if you want to have a contest, go see the movie and tally them up...we'll see who can find the most.
Now I know that some old movies had political agendas as well..."Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "Meet John Doe" come immediately to mind. But the agenda in those movies was actually related to the context of the movie...the producers didn't stoop to hijacking a noble story and re-writing it to fit a completely different agenda. If Hollywood yearns to take up a contemporary cause as clearly immoral as slavery was back in those days, why don't they produce an epic on abortion?
I look forward to a more substantial movie on the efforts of Wilburforce and his associates to turn the tide of slavery, as well as addressing so many other injustices of that day. But this "Wilburfarce" deserves its soon-to-be-assumed place in the seldom-browsed video store shelves of "B" movies.
And history is once more mis-used in the name of righteousness. The beat goes on...
Sir Chuck, hearing the drums across the ages