Monday, March 12, 2007


A film about the end of the slave trade in the British Empire? Awesome.

Well, in idea. I haven't seen it.

That said, the film would probably have a much greater impact if its quality matched its good intentions. Though blessed with a handsome cast and sumptuous costumes, filmmaker Michael Apted would have done better to have commissioned a better script than the convoluted mess that spills onto the screen.

Though I suppose we must forgive it for its numerous conflations of characters and events in order to simplify things, it fails the basic test of maintaining a coherent narrative. The film travels back and forth throughout Wilberforce's career with a flexibility that recalls Kurt Vonnegut's method in Slaughterhouse Five. But while being "spastic in time" may have worked for that fantasy, it fails here, especially since it must surely confuse even that small percentage of the audience that may already know the history.

And this review isn't too hot. Alas.

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