Reviewed by: Gabriel Mohler
Who was John Newton?
What was the Underground Railroad?
Does the Bible condone slavery? Answer
slaves in the Bible
|Featuring:||Cuba Gooding Jr. … Samuel
William Sadler … Plimpton
Sharon Leal … Vanessa
David Rasche … Jefferson Monroe
Terrence Mann … Barney Fagan
Michael Goodwin … Garrett
Phyllis Bash … Adira
Phillip Boykin … Big Hand
Timothy A. Chey
Cuba Gooding Jr.
“Two men, 100 years apart, united by amazing grace”
“Freedom” is one of the best films to come out in some time, along with “Beyond the Mask.” Ironically, a movie about liberation was given a completely unfair R rating, which I will address later. This movie has strong and specific Biblical virtues.
Two events in history are reenacted in a way that flows very smoothly. Fugitive slaves are travelling the underground railroad, and the grandmother with them is telling them about John Newton’s slave ship (which is also reenacted). The movie also has some music numbers—gospel spirituals and hymns (including, of course, “Amazing Grace.”)
Slaves are shown being whipped and cruelly treated, but this will only be disturbing to the especially sensitive—except, of course, the natural way in which seeing cruelty is disturbing to everyone. The villains cuss three or four times, and the N-word is used once (also, note that s**t was not considered offensive back in that day). Some male slaves on the ship are seen shirtless, and there are pencil sketches shown of nude slaves, but nothing sensitive is visible.
This film does not shy away from constant, powerful, and reiterated Christian themes. It’s more than just the context of historical accuracy. The slaves either trust God or learn to trust God as they travel, and the spiritual conversion of John Newton is portrayed without reservation.
It must be noted that this film is a reason for us to give up on the MPAA. We’ve put up with movies containing strong violence or sexual content being rated PG-13, but now their mistake is reversed—and it just so happens that it’s with a Christian-themed film. Maybe they fooled when they rated “The Conjuring” R, but this time it’s not even subtle. The violence in this film is barely worthy of PG-13, had it not been for the Christian themes, it probably would have been PG. The whippings are not too graphic; the blood is either offscreen or shown only partially or from a distance. There are bullet wounds shown, but, overall, this film by no means whatsoever deserved to be rated R. I never like to be too certain with my assumptions, but there seems to be no other reason for the R-rating than discrimination. The MPAA said it was rated R “for some violence,” but I believe the certificate should say “because we didn’t like the Christian content.” Even a ten year old would be able to tell that the R-rating is, frankly, downright ridiculous.
The virtues of this film are a wonderfully pleasant surprise, similar to the film “Amazing Grace,” which is about William Wilberforce (and which you should also watch). After you watch the excellent film “Beyond the Mask,” which was released in theaters recently and is about the American Revolution, jump forward in history (and, in the case of John Newton, back) in this superb and very touching movie “Freedom.”
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.