I watch TV very rarely, even satellite channels with their wide range of programmes and the possibility to watch movies in the original version (which I appreciate so much). I'd rather watch a DVD. when I have some spare time.  Instead, I happened to see as many as ... two (!) very good films on TV  in the last days. The first one is  AVATAR, The Movie (2009) which,  I know, would have been better to see at the cinema. Anyhow,  it was not bad at all on my (quite) big television screen. Not in 3D? Never mind, I'm not at all interested in  special effects or CGI. This film is actually not exactly  my cup of tea.  Then, I was rather prejudiced against it ... It was enough for me to know that it  had cost an incredible amount of money and that it was James Cameron's sci-fi epic ,  the biggest box-office hit ever – which had supplanted  his previous opus, "Titanic". Of course, despite my dislike for hugely expensive American blockbusters mainly based  on stunning special effects, I could but love it! What I especially  liked  was the fact that I watched it with my two sons and that we all found something to enjoy in it.  This movie can be read at different levels and it is successfully manufactured food for thoughts. It was its underlying social and political themes which mostly attracted my attention. I  appreciated its being a profound show of resistance to capitalism and an incredible struggle for the defense of nature, set in a completely new fantasy world, with weird and wonderful plants, animals and blue aliens. Beauty, goodness and usefulness.


The plot

When his brother is killed in a robbery, paraplegic Marine Jake Sully decides to take his place in a mission on the distant world of Pandora. There he learns of greedy corporate figurehead Parker Selfridge's intentions of driving off the native humanoid "Na'vi" in order to mine for the precious material scattered throughout their rich woodland. In exchange for the spinal surgery that will fix his legs, Jake gathers intel for the cooperating military unit spearheaded by gung-ho Colonel Quaritch, while simultaneously attempting to infiltrate the Na'vi people with the use of an "avatar" identity. While Jake begins to bond with the native tribe and quickly falls in love with the beautiful alien Neytiri, the restless Colonel moves forward with his ruthless extermination tactics, forcing the soldier to take a stand - and fight back in an epic battle for the fate of Pandora.  (from  Avatar the Movie at Imdb)

The second movie? Well, it was a costume drama and I  watched it all by myself. No one shares my love for period drama in my family, you know. But, fortunately, I've found a place were I can share this passion of mine, which is here on Fly High! The historical movie I saw is AMAZING GRACE ( 2006). 

The two films are definitely different.  However, basicly they tell stories of men who fight for their ideals, men who want to make the world they live in better. And this is something which I deeply needed these days: to find examples, models of positivity , since I am so disappointed with what I see/hear around me.
I find it hard to believe there are still men like William Wilberforce who stubbornly and skillfully steered anti-slave legislation through the British Parliament until the Slave Trade Act 1807. Wilberforce, played by Ioann Gruffudd,  is the protagonist of AMAZING GRACE .

The plot
The film begins in 1797 with William Wilberforce severely ill and taking a holiday in Bath,  with his cousin, Henry Thornton (Nicholas Farrell) . It is here that William is introduced to his future wife, Barbara Spooner. (Romola Garai)  Although he at first resists, she convinces him to tell her about his life.
The story flashes back 15 years to 1782, and William recounts the events that led him to where he is now. Beginning as an ambitious and popular Member of Parliament (MP), William was persuaded by his friends William Pitt (Benedict Cumberbatch) , Thomas Clarkson (Rufus Sewell) , Hannah More (Georgie Glen), and others to take on the dangerous issue of the British slave trade. This led him to become highly unpopular in the House of Commons amongst the MPs representing vested interests of the slave trade in London, Bristol, and Liverpool.
Exhausted, and frustrated that he was unable to change anything in the government, William becomes physically ill, which brings the story back up to 1797. Having virtually given up hope, William considers leaving politics forever. Barbara convinces him to keep fighting because if he does not, there will be no one else capable of doing so. A few days afterward, William and Barbara marry.
William, with a renewed hope for success, picks up the fight against slave trade where he had previously left off, aided by Thornton, Clarkson, and James Stephen (Stephen Campbell Moore). In time, after the 20-year campaign and many attempts to bring legislation forward, he is eventually responsible for a bill being passed through Parliament in 1807, which abolishes the slave trade in the British Empire forever.
(from Wikipedia)
It wasn't the best known of the nominees or the highest grossing at the box office, but this is a great movie with a stellar cast, a true good story , delicious locations as well as amazing costumes. In the cast, also Michael Gambon, Ciaran Hinds, Albert Finney, Youssou N'Dour, Toby Jones, Sylvestra La Touzel, Jeremy Swift.

Politics can be a boring subject to deal with  in films  (politics can be amazingly disappointing, even disgusting, if you live in Italy)  but since Britain fought their war against slavery on the floor of Parliament and not the battlefield, the political angle is core to this movie.  Thanks to a brilliant  director, (Michael Apted)  clever script (Steven Knight) and talented cast, that doesn’t slow it down one bit. I especially enjoyed the Parliamentary sessions based on high intellectual debate among MPs who were deeply aware of what their role was. In the end, I was happy  I had make the acquaintance with a man, a group of men, from the past who fought and spent their lives to make this world better. Next time I'll be in Westminster Abbey,  I'll give a much more careful look to the gravestone next to William Pitt's, that of William Wilberforce. 


Avalon said...

Not being a fan of special effects myself, I was impressed by Avatar because of the reflection of Native Americans. The movie upset a few critics and received some bad press over stereotyping, but for me it touched my heart. I could easily see the past of my people in this film.

Fanny/iz4blue said...

My dear Maria, it took you this LONG before you saw AMAZING GRACE?? I love this movie and count it amongst my all-time fave's! You summed it up well and so sad this did not receive more commercial or artistic recognition which it surely deserves! A TRUE GEM!!
Avatar was interesting conceptually for me; the ability eventually in the future to inhabit another working body when yours isn't. But native traditions versus modern short-term thinking became predictable. And yes I did enjoy the visuals btw I like you only saw it on my BIG flat screen. LOL

Maria Grazia said...

Yes, the old story of stereotyping ... but aome reflections must be done and some messages must be sent. It is necessary. And this was a wonderful way to do it. The message has been sent to a huge number of people.Thanks, Avalon.
It took me so long to do many things, unfortunately. And there are so many I still want to do. But I happen to have so many wishes but so little time. I'm glad I did it. Never mind if only now. The same for Avatar.

Maria Grazia said...

Thank you ladies for your comments! If you wish, have a look at the discussion going on my facebook page http://on.fb.me/hMUeoo

Phylly3 said...

I still haven't seen Avatar but I totally loved Amazing Grace! I would gladly see it again. It was an amazing production with a stellar cast, but the story itself being true made it even more wonderful! What patience that man had! He was truly great and has been almost overlooked by history. I was also very interested in the back story to how the hymn Amazing Grace came to be. It is a 5 star movie in my book! Thanks for the great review!

lunarossa said...

I didn't particularly like Avatar. I watched on blu-ray on a wide screen tv but surely it would have been better on the big screen and in 3D. But after all the hype I had expected something much better. Too much fighting and sloppy stories. Amazing Grace is a gem of a film. I went to watch it with my son whilst he was studying the history slavery in school and we were so taken by the film that next day we went to visit the Wilberforce House & Museum in (Kingston upon) Hull where Wilberforce was born. Our current Foreign Minister, William Hague, has written a great Wilberforce's biography, very engrossing. (And one about Pitt as well btw). Ciao. A.PS. My daughter can play Amazing Grace beautifully on her flute!

Claudia said...

I haven't seen Amazing Grace, but after your review I'm going to make it soon. Talking about Avatar, I must confess I didn't like it at all. Like Lunarossa, I watched it at home, but the matter is (though I'm not very impressed by special effects in general) I was pretty upset even before beginning, because the movie had been too flattered. I felt like I had necessarily to like it! Ciao :)

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen either of them! *hides*
Avatar didn't really grab my attention to send me to the cinema and I had no idea about Amazing Grace, I guess I'll have to find time for both of them. After all, counts a lot who's recommending those movies ;).

OML :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, why have I not heard of this movie, Amazing Grace? Sounds like one to watch!