‘Extraordinary’, ‘transcendent’, ‘spine-tingling’. This is just some of the praise from reviewers of Amazing Grace, the film of Aretha Franklin’s 1972 recording of what became the best-selling live gospel album of all time. Intimately filmed in a small church before a local congregation and brought to our screens just as it was recorded almost fifty years ago, why has this film provoked such a positive response from contemporary film critics?
Its huge impact is clearly due to Aretha’s deeply personal rendition of so many powerful gospel songs such as ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’ and ‘Precious Lord take my hand’.
Singing at the church pulpit, with a cross in front of her and a mural of Jesus behind her, Aretha uses her amazing vocal mastery and artistic excellence not to draw attention to herself but rather to draw out the message of the music. No wonder Rolling Stone magazine says: ‘It will make you feel as if you’ve seen the face of God’.
Host your own cinema screening
This printable Viewer’s Guide is a perfect accompaniment to your film screening. It provides thought-provoking insight into:
- The impact. Discover why reviewers describe this film as ‘a full-on experience, body and soul’ (Vox) and say ‘don’t bother with tissues, bring a towel’ (New York Times).
- The backstory. Originally planned to be released alongside the best-selling Amazing Grace album, discover why the footage was never seen until being bought to our screens almost fifty years later.
- The inspiration. Aretha Franklin is one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, but less is known about the trials and challenges this lady faced in her life and faith. Discover why her biographer David Ritz reflects: ‘The most traumatic parts of Aretha’s life would produce her most moving music. Misery would breed miraculous creativity.’
- The title. Reputed to be one of the most recognisable songs in the English-speaking world, Amazing Grace was originally written as a poem by an English country vicar. Discover how his life in the slave trade led to these lyrics which speak of an amazing free gift of forgiveness and new life for everyone.
Spread the Word
Please help us share the opportunities for these special screenings and the accompanying printable Viewer’s Guide by using this graphic and social-media text:
‘Transcendent’ ‘Spine-tingling’. Host your own local cinema screening of Aretha Franklin’s film Amazing Grace, and use the official Viewer’s Guide to help people explore the message behind the film. www.EthosMedia.org/AmazingGrace