When my mom, two youngest brothers, and I arrived, we saw the theater wasn’t exactly a happenin’ place at 3:30 on a Thursday afternoon. There may have been six more folks besides us at the showing. But what a joyful experience was had by we happy few! When we walked out the doors and out into the bright sunshine, I felt none of the sadness at going back to real life that I often feel on emerging from those caves of visions. This vision was not a couple-hour’s escape to Neverland. It was a window wiped clear for me to see bravery and compassion lived out by a real man through Christ’s power.
The film centers on William Wilberforce, one of those great Christians from the past whose stories need to be told to our cynical world. It shows his long fight to abolish slavery, his moments of despair, his struggle with bad health, his faithful friends, numerous pets, and a wife who supports him and his work wholeheartedly. For a great summary and review, see Plugged-In Online. I generally agree with their conclusions, and I think they hit this spot on.
It was good. Aesthetically, an authentic, well-made, historical drama. And more. It was not unpleasantly preachy, but gloriously visionary. It’s about a humble hero, who also happens to have lived in real life. It has the same feel to me as Chariots of Fire, or Luther. It makes me want to do good for Christ for the beauty of it, to live out my talents and abilities for His pleasure. And to do it despite what anyone else may think.
(image from www.ioanonline.com)
The film was not all dreary! There were some delightfully humerous moments, such as when a married couple who are Wilberforce’s good friends conspire to “happen” to run into a young lady who is, like himself, “very much un-married.” His butler is also a delightful chap, even though he thinks his master is a bit odd. And the animals he keeps about the house provide subject matter for a few amusing remarks. We see an unexpected game of— But if I told you, it wouldn’t be anymore. ;)
Going to see this film is NOT a waste of time, money, or attention. Again, I proclaim it is good. The colors, the costumes, the acting, the story, the heroes are fascinating. Alive. They will draw you in from the first scene of a British country road in the rain, and a man acting who cares about life. What he does in the first scene seems small. But like the rest of the film, it shows his active compassion, regardless of personal health and reputation.
Wilberforce is the sort of fellow who is the best of heroes. We need more of them in movies. And we need to be them here, now.