How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
These are the first few verses of John Newton’s song Amazing Grace, a song that was featured throughout this film for a variety of reasons.
It is common knowledge that in the 1800’s, a secret network of ordinary people known as the Underground Railroad helped escaping slaves journey from the north to Canada and freedom. We also know from history class that the Underground Railroad is hugely identified with Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas.
But, who we don’t about is Thomas Garrett. Garrett, a white man, guided over 2,500 people to freedom in his 40 year career with the Underground Railroad. In 1856, a slave, Samuel Woodward (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and his family escape from the Monroe Plantation in Richmond, Virginia guided by Garrett through the railroad to seek refuge in Canada. Hunted down like dogs, their journey places them among many people risking their own lives so that numerous people of color could start a new life as free human beings.
100 years earlier, John Newton, is a slave trader sailing from Africa with a cargo full of slaves. This voyage changes his life and thus the inspiration for “Amazing Grace”. Newton realizes that all humans should be treated with dignity and respect despite the color of their skin.
Being a musical theatre doll, it was nice to hear music sprinkled throughout the film to move the plot point along, but it often times seemed out of place. One moment that was right on time was with Terrance Mann (Barney Fagan)and Diane Salinger (Fanny), the night before another in many journeys for the Woodwards, in which Fagan’s theater troupe is celebrating with food, drink and song. Baby, when Miss Fanny goes to hit a note that appears to be too high and she quips “I don’t think this is my key”, I howled with laughter.!!!! It was by far my favorite moment of the film!
It’s always nice to become even more enlightened regarding American History. Who knew that Samuel Woodward and John Newton’s lives would be united 100 years later over Newton’s song, Amazing Grace? Having quite a few friends of color from Canada, it is quite an eye-opener to know how they got there. As my Mom says, “You’re never too old to learn something new”.
Sad to say, however, that today, there are over 29 million human beings living under the tyranny of slavery all over the world. More than any other time in our history In a effort to commit to end slavery and human trafficking…join the road to freedom by logging onto www.themoviefreedom.com and find out how to help.
Freedom will be released on DVD beginning July 14th. Check it out if you can…