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How Sweet The Sound
Michael Apted to make Amazing Grace

06 April 2005  |  Written by   

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Since the days when he thought that The World Is Not Enough, director Michael Apted has clearly had something of a change of heart. Now, in fact, he’s going out of his way to proclaim Amazing Grace. Some sort of religious conversion? Well, not exactly – in fact, Amazing Grace is a new film about the end of the slave trade.

But don’t worry! This isn’t another US Civil War film, fraught with all that North-South hostility. No, this is the story of the end of slavery in Britain, led by William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was that most apparently unsexy of characters, a Member of Parliament. However, when elected at the age of 21, he made it his mission to eradicate slavery in Britain and her colonies (this being the 18th century and Britain being in the process of building her full Empire). Wilberforce built a coalition against the practice, incidentally bringing himself into conflict with some of the most powerful people in the land.

The film is being described as a political thriller rather than a historical epic, so we can hope for lots of tense, er, debating and exciting, er, wigs. Or should that be Whigs? In any case, it’s nice to hear about a film that might actually praise British parliamentary democracy, rather than making us look like hopeless fops, aristocrats and inbred royals.

And with Dirty Pretty Things author Steve Knight on script duties, this could be pretty hard-hitting - a rare thing for a historical film. Apted will be juggling pre-production on the film with his duties as the current President of the Directors’ Guild of America, and two other potential projects, Black Autumn and Tell No One.

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