2019 Film Reviews - 32: Amazing Grace [dir. Alan Elliott & Sydney Pollack; 2018]

Aside from the impassioned music and Aretha Franklin’s unquestionably powerful vocal skills (although personally, I can take R&B warbling only in small doses) what’s most remarkable about this footage of the recording of the much-lauded, 1972 Amazing Grace album is the casualness of the whole set up. Franklin herself wanders on with little fanfare. The audience move around the auditorium, dancing, clapping and singing as they please. Mick Jagger pops up at one point, joining the crowd with no apparent need for security or bodyguards. It’s hard not to think that such informality would be utterly impossible today. I’m not suggesting for one minute that I’d like social norms to go back to the 1970s - a time when, somewhat ironically, the position of women and black people in America was even more difficult than it is now - but watching Amazing Grace does call to mind the old adage that for everything that’s gained, something is probably lost. An intriguing insight into a bygone age.



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