Amazing Grace is an engaging and educating film because of the complex structure that is created by director Michael Apted. It’s woven in a way that effectively conveys William Wilberforce’s deepest emotions and beliefs to the audience. In this film, Apted has to tell a story to entertain and capture his audience’s attention on the sheer determination to end the cruel era of the slave trade. He certainly does this, through thought-provoking use of structure.
The film is told from Wilberforce’s narrative point of view, for the purpose of the audience seeing his true personality and feelings on slavery. We get down to personal level and become more emotionally involved with day to day ...view middle of the document...
Right from the beginning, we see Wilberforce rubbing a misty window of the carriage. The camera cuts to a view out a foggy window and the camera joltingly pans past what he was watching. With this effective technique of subjective treatment, it is presented to us as though Wilberforce eyes as he sees it from it the carriage, from his point of view.
One of the stronger techniques that Apted uses to present William Wilberforce is through nightmares. A pattern that can be noticed with these is that every time, these nightmares share the similarity of having red and black colouring, and showing content of terrible suffering of Black Americans. The music is haunting, with tints of cultural Black American music. How Apted structures these nightmares this way ensures his audience is aware that we are not just seeing on the surface and what’s in reality, but also Wilberforce’s deepest nightmares. We see his torturous internal thoughts that are the drive behind his goal to end the terrible suffering of a race.
We go from being a clueless audience, to being on a personal level with Wilberforce. Instead of just realising that he didn’t agree with slavery, we actually feel his anger and frustration with the continued discrimination shown to the Black Americans. At the ending of his comic opera nightmare, he says “It replays my life to mock me. It shows me things I should have done, but didn’t.” The lighting of the scene after his nightmares is dark. This chiaroscuro technique shows Wilberforce’s face half in light and half in darkness showing his inner conflict and turmoil. Through this combination of gloomy lighting and narrative style, Apted shows us Wilberforce in his most personal and intense moments and we are forced to realise that this isn’t just a person that success comes to without a struggle. A sense of despair is ingrained within as we see him distressed at his continued failed attempts. It makes us buy into his vision of wanting to end the suffering of the slaves when we see this internal pain of constant discouragements.
Another way Apted uses structure to engage his audience, is through the less common use of a non-linear storyline. This typically presents the audience with multiple paths from point A to point B. The script is effectively covers 20 years of William Wilberforce’s battle, structured with long flashbacks that are clearly and seamlessly interwoven.
The story begins in ‘media res’ and moves back with flashbacks. ‘Media res’ is a Latin term which means in the middle. It is a narrative technique, the practice of beginning in the middle of a film, plunging into a crucial situation. At the beginning of the film we are presented with a very sick Wilberforce going to the Thornton’s to rest. Our first sight of him shows a man hunched over with his arms wrapped around his body. He has dark circles under his eyes and wears no wig. By starting in the middle of this conflict and in a crisis, Apted intends that the audience is...