– Marlin Detweiler
Feature Article –Ken Wales on Amazing Grace by John Seel
Educational Helps – by Laurie Detweiler and Ned Bustard
Recently, the folks at
The King’s College, New York, NY arranged for me attend an advance screening of
Amazing Grace hosted by Ken Wales,
the producer of the movie. This movie, scheduled for release on February 23rd,
is about William Wilberforce, an amazing 18th century Christian
Englishman, best known for his successful efforts in abolishing slavery in
John Seel of Walden Media kindly interviewed Ken Wales, the producer, for our Feature Article.
Ken Wales on Amazing Grace
During his 15 year
association with director Blake Edwards, Ken Wales produced many films
The Tamarind Seed and Wild Rovers and associate/line-produced numerous films
including Darling Lili, starring Julie Andrews and Rock Hudson; The Great Race, with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, and The
Party, and Revenge of the Pink
Panther, both starring Peter Sellers. In
What was the genesis of the film Amazing Grace?
The genesis of Amazing Grace happened when Phil Anschutz invited me to the Peninsula Hotel for an early morning breakfast. A mutual business friend had told Phil that we needed to meet because I had film ideas that might fit with the vision of his new film company. I remember getting there about and sitting down and Phil arrived in his jogging suit as he had already been out running for an hour and a half.
we began he said, “I really enjoyed Christy.
Tell me what films you want to do.” I mentioned several, including the rest of
the story of Eric Little.
But I said that the one that is really close to my heart is the story of John
Newton. As the author of the most popular song in the world, it has particular
potential. Phil said, “John Newton. Have you ever heard of William
Wilberforce?” I knew a little about him, particularly how his life intersected
I knew that this was really an English story. So we tried to find a good English writer. I first called Colin Welland, who won an Academy Award as the writer of Chariot’s of Fire in 1981, I got him on the phone and he said, “Ken, good to talk with you. Ah yes. William Wilberforce, the great Christian reformer who changed the world.” I knew then that Colin would have a part in it. He wrote the first draft, but the studio thought it needed a bit more edginess so we got a few more writers to work on the script, but none of the early drafts seemed to work.
At this point the clock was ticking, because we really wanted to release the film during the bicentennial of the British abolition of slavery in 2007. Time was getting dangerously short. I suggested that we get a director so that we could get a director’s input to the script early in the process.
year before, I had called Michael Apted to see if he
might be available. He was tied up with
Why do Christian parents and students need to know about William Wilberforce?
William Wilberforce is truly a reformer who changed the world. We need to know about these world-changing events, especially when they happen for the good. We are not talking about Hitler here, but about somebody who did something for others based on his deep Christian convictions.
became a Christian through his friendship with his old teacher Isaac Milner who
he invited to go with him on holiday to the Continent. Returning to
What was the greatest challenge you faced in making Amazing Grace?
The greatest challenge was in writing the script, to find the formula that really made the story compelling. It needed to be more than a biography or a documentary. Linear stories are often boring. We decided to use dramatic flashbacks, while building the story to its conclusion. It was also important to show more than how he got the bill passed, but why he did it, his underlying Christian convictions.
How is this movie also the beginning of a potential movement?
Wilberforce was a man of those times. In his example, he needs to become a man for our times. His second great object was the reformation of manners, morals, and civility. Wow, do we need this today. Few realize that there is more human trafficking today than when Wilberforce lived. We’re in some deep water here. Wouldn’t it be extraordinary to take a man of those times, a respected person, a hero, and reclaim his vision for our times two hundred years later. He’s become my hero. He was also Abraham Lincoln’s hero.
Tell me about your new book, Amazing Grace of Freedom.
It has been a delight to develop a companion book to the film, written with Ted Beahr, Chairman of The Christian Film & Television Commission and my wife, Susan, who is a fiction writer. Susan has a knack of reaching into history and breathing real life into the characters. So this book, Amazing Grace of Freedom, tells the individual stories of the characters we show in the film. There are essays about Wilberforce as well as the other characters in the film, and an essay about how we made the film. There are wonderful pictures included in the book taken during the filming.
If you are like us you are always looking for family activities. And I love it when it’s something that can be tied into history. The moving Amazing Grace has a down-to-earth believable Christian worldview with many lessons for us and our children to learn by example of Godly leaders who have fought righteous battles. William Wilberforce is not as recognizable a name as Jonathan Edwards yet had a great impact on our Christian heritage. As we seek to recover a lost educational model we need to help our children understand that what they do today matters for tomorrow.
that you do one or more of the attached activities before going to see the
movie whether you homeschool or are part of a school activity. At
is another lesson for older children to learn form this movie. Our third son,
Travis, senior at
Through a number of providential circumstances he was able to meet with Ken Wales a couple times and he was impressed. It gave him a vision for what can be done. We think this message bears spreading. Help your children see this message. The gospel affects all of life. As you can tell this film has affected our family. As we seek to take back culture and see the Gospel affect every man lets use and enjoy the tools that God drops in our laps.
Free Book on William Wilberforce
The book mentioned by Ken Wales in the article above, Amazing Grace of Freedom, is free for the asking with a $100 order or may be purchased for $12.00 during February. The book retails for $19.99. [PC2]
Free Offer from Abondante Living
During the month of
February, Abondante Living is giving away some wonderful items—even the
shipping cost is free (Shipping charges will apply outside the
Q. Teaching logic is intimidating, especially when I never had a logic class myself. How does one go about teaching logic? How much do I guide and help the student in thinking through and answering questions, and how much do I let them formulate on their own?
A. Logic is a discipline that intimidates many people. The materials we recommend are very teacher-friendly—thousands have used them effectively. You can, too. One of the best (and easiest) ways to take on this subject is to buy the CD’s and let Jim Nance do the teaching for you. In this case we recommend sitting in on the lessons to learn for yourself and better help your child work through the material. The importance of learning logic cannot be overrated. RC Sproul has said that the failure to know and practice logic is the greatest reason for failures to understand the Bible.
Q. Is it necessary to use the resources on the Veritas Press history cards?
A. No it is not necessary, but it is wise. The only information that the children are tested on in the tests we provide is on the back of the flashcards. However, we suggest you refer to resources for a number of reasons. It is a great way for children to learn how to do research at an early age, it allows them to delve deeper into the subject matter and it reinforces what they are learning on the cards when they read extra material about it.
Please submit any questions you’d like answered here to firstname.lastname@example.org.
8th Annual Classical Christian Education Conference
Ken Myers (All
God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes and Mars Hill Audio) and Andrew Pudewa (Institute for Excellence in Writing) are two of
many exceptional speakers at this annual one day conference in
History or Bible Project Competition Winners
It was quite obvious that many of the entries we received had been carefully thought out and meticulously carried out. What a blessing they were. Yet we promised winners. So, here they are:
1st Joaquin Juan (8) and Tristan Juan
(Egyptian Party Project including invitations in hieroglyphs, making a mummy, making Egyptian headgear, having a treasure hunt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)
2nd Thomas Lockwood (15), Anna Lockwood
(12), Phillip Lockwood (9),
3rd Allen Martin (10), Jackson Martin (9),
Grayson Martin (6), Macy McClung (9), Miranda McClung (11), Hope Salmon (9),
(Over six weeks created “Cluckankhamen, ” the mummified chicken. The beginning was celebrated with the baking and eating of edible mummies—hotdogs wrapped in crescent rolls cut into long strips.)
(Teacher) and her 3rd graders,
(Learning Greek and Roman architecture, students created a three-dimensional city including buildings with varied architectural styles of arches, columns and domes.)
Denise Monroe (Principal) and the
(Learning about Magellan, students created Magellan’s fleet of five ships using personalized detail as their research directed them.)
3rd Mary Chache
(Teacher) and Nathan Pinces, Audrey King and Amy
Wyman (all students),
(Learning about Gutenberg, student created a book by first designing, then printing and binding the books. Dental floss and glue may not work commercially but they are wonderful ways to bind books in a classroom or at home.)
Dr. Leyland Ryken will be the featured
speaker at the 2007 Teacher Training Conference July 18–20 in
Those who choose to take advantage of this foundational learning opportunity will leave invigorated with clear tools, methods and plans to teach and administer a classical Christian education in their school or homeschool. We will also be offering Latin-in-a-Week July 16–20th. Look for a brochure in the spring if you:
• LIVE EAST OF
• LIVE IN
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Visit us on the web at or call us at
 Mr. Philip Anschutz is a philanthropist from Denver, Co. He is Christian and member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. One of his many companies, Walden Media, which funded the development of Amazing Grace also has to its credit the film version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe among many others.
Little was the missionary to