‘Amazing Grace With Bill Moyers (Review)
Amazing Grace had sat with me as little more than a poplar hymn from my baptist going days. After watching Amazing Grace I found it to be a song with much more meaning than I ever imagined. It is a song that has inspired generation, lead many people to salvation, and brought families together for years.
Amazing Grace covers both the history and result of the classic hymn Amazing Grace. The story of Amazing Grace writer, John Newton is told to us. A former slaver and boater, Newton found God and published the song in 1779. His story is narrated by the distinctive vocal talents of Jeremy Irons, using Newton’s own words from his diary and logs. Newton’s history is kept at a minimal and so the real heart of the film is about all the people Amazing Grace has touched.
The song Amazing Grace is sung over and over throughout the film. It is a wonder I never got tired of hearing it. Each time, it is sung with such passion and feeling that I could never dismiss such heartfelt praise. We are given a number of welcoming renditions and stories about Amazing Grace from legends such as Judy Collins and Johnny Cash. Judy Collins talks to us about how Amazing Grace gave her strength through her time battling as an alcoholic. This is where Amazing Grace really hits home, when it get’s personal. But the most fascinating part about the film is not about how it has effected celebrities, but rather how Amazing Grace has defined normal lives and cultures.
We are shown many fascinating life styles. Some of the most interesting come from the deep south, where churches use a special music writing script called shaped notes. This was one of the most intriguing moments for me as I had never heard of such a music writing style. From there we meet a family who every year is reunited, led by their folk singing relative Jean Ritchie. The words of Amazing Grace are uplifting and sorrowful as the celebrate family and those who have passed. Another beautiful story of Grace is told by the inmates of Huntsville Texas and later sing a beautiful all men’s a capela arrangement. One of the final stories is told about the Boys Choir of Harlem, their voices are angelic and their story humbling.
Amazing Grace is a beautiful documentary about truth, love, and the power of God’s grace. I know many will get sick of hearing the song, and may be bored of the content of the film, but I found if you just soak in each verse and chorus as if you were hearing someone’s individual story, you will be able to truly appreciate the power of this film. Each singer in this documentary deserves to have his or her story listened too. What is your story of Amazing Grace?