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BILL MOYERS: AMAZING GRACE

20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

It's one of the most popular and beloved songs in the English language. Transcending race, creed, geography, generation, and social station, Amazing Grace has been recorded more times than any other hymn and is widely credited with transforming lives. Written by John Newton, an English clergyman and former slave-ship captain, the poem was published in 1779 and took on its familiar tune during the Second Great Awakening in the United States. In this inspiring program, Bill Moyers explores the song's origins and enduring power. Produced and directed by Emmyr and Peabody winner Elena Mannes, this documentary features illuminating conversations and stirring performances by Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, Jessye Norman, Marion Williams, the Boys Choir of Harlem, shape-note singers, prison inmates, and more. There are 24 renditions in all, no two alike, and each filled with emotion and conviction. With Jeremy Irons as the voice of John Newton.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Athena
  • DVD Release Date: January 17, 2012
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005X5XISS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,335 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Harold Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWER on November 30, 2011
UNDOUBTEDLY one of Bill Moyers' finest triumphs in TV documentary related to faith. This 1990 production not only acquaints the viewer with the history of the song but the writer, John Newton, and his life leading up to and beyond the 1779 publication of "Amazing Grace". Moyers does not do this one alone, although interviews with people and artists are led by Moyers. Jeremy Irons (`Brideshead Revisited'-must own that one) narrates much of the story behind the song, as John Newton's voice, using Newton's own words recorded in diary's and logs from when he was captain of a slavery-boat.

You get song renditions from Jean Ritchie (folksinger on the dulcimer) and Fannie Lou Hammer (Civil Rights activist/singer), to mega stars like Johnny Cash and Judy Collins. It's Collins' recording, that once #15 on the pop charts, that I enjoyed best. Other notables in their fields of musical presentations include Marion Williams, Boys choir of Harlem, Jessye Norman, some inmates at Huntsville, TX, and shape-note singers from Holly Spring, GA, and Wiregrass Sacred Harp Singers of Ozark, AL. Even trumpet blues with the ending credits.

As Johnny Cash stated in the program, "It's a song that makes a difference."
Educational, yes, but more inspirational. A joy to see and hear. My wife agrees, 5-stars.
Comes with SDH SUBTITLES.

BONUS: "Pure Pete Seeger" an hour interview/performance in 1994 when Seeger was 75. That too is subtitled. It's is magical, to see Seeger as a warm grandfather type, still making music. Also, text bios of Moyers, Johnny Cash, Jessye Norman, Jean Richie, Dewey Williams, and Marion Williams. A pamphlet viewer's guide is inserted.

Moyers' Amazing Grace is thoroughly enjoyable.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Edwin E. Ferguson on December 20, 2013
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The DVD was not the entire special he had on PBS years ago-the VHS tapeof that show is longer but what is missing from the DVD I got from amazin.com is the amazing rock version of Amazing Grace by Marion Williams, a Judy Collins clip, and country scenes
onf folks doing the song acapella in the mountains down South. I had the original DVD that matched the VHS tape but lost it.
So I feel cheated-is there anyway to get the original DVD from years ago-the one I got was clearly edited and lost
much of its power. Thank you
Ned at eef@tds.net
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Judyk on January 2, 2012
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I saw this on TV years ago and I have been looking for a dvd of it for years. As I have not yet received it (I pre-ordered it) I can not rate the item itself. However, the content is excellent. It is very moving and inspirational. I never knew the third stanza (sp?) of Amazing Grace before seeing this show and now it is my favorite part of the song. Really chokes me up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bob skinner on August 21, 2012
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Classic PBS Bill Moyers show......I bot the disc to use excerpts of Judy Collins, Jessye Norman, and the history of John Newton, the composer, in church when we highlight individual tunes on "Favorite Hymn Sunday".....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bev VINE VOICE on December 30, 2014
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I ordered this to replace my old VHS tape which had been viewed over and over. Now I can watch it on DVD and am SO pleased! This is not particularly a religious documentary, it's truly the story of a beautiful song. People of any and all religions, or of no religion at all, would still enjoy this I'm sure.
The film takes us to many areas of the country and to many, many musicians and singers who feel a great deal of reverence for the song. We learn about John Newton's background and history, and what moved him, in 1779, to create this memorable poem. The words were set to their so familiar tune during the Second Great Awakening in the United States. A few of the artists who are featured here performing Amazing Grace, each in their own style, are Johnny Cash, Jessye Norman, Judy Collins, Marion Williams, and The Boys Choir of Harlem. There are 24 renditions in all. It's a moving and truly great documentary. I simply cannot say enough good things about it. See for yourself!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By AlanWarner on March 8, 2015
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I find it somewhat "amazing" that a former captain of a slave ship wrote this American classic hymn, Amazing Grace has always been the only hymn that I listen to, I belong to no religion, and you see that is the beautiful thing about Amazing Grace it transcends religious beliefs. The extraordinary part of this hymn is that the lyrics speak to the eternal concept of people turning around their lives no matter what they did in the past "I WAS BLIND BUT NOW I SEE" that is beautifully written, how many of us fit into that category, myself included. In this DVD I found it to be very interesting to see the wide range of celebrities who have sang Amazing Grace Marion Williams, Jessye Norman, Johnny Cash, and Judy Collins, Bill Moyers does a superb job of showcasing AMAZING GRACE in this documentary, this is one DVD that the whole family can watch and enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By George F. Stewart on September 16, 2013
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This is a great film concerning one of the best known and most loved hymns. This film is in the great tradition of Bill Moyers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Madame DeFarge on May 2, 2013
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The 5 star rating is because this DVD is thrilling and gives new depths of appreciation and understanding to a very old and beautiful hymn. It lives because it seems to adapt to many cultures and musical genres...from Jessey Norman's operatic take to the shape-note singers to Johnny Cash to the Harlem Boys Choir.I loved it from beginning to end. (I even learned from another video that it can be played on all black keys...and it can!)

Most of all it speaks of the grace of redemption.
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