Film review: Amazing Grace

David Gritten / 09 May 2019

Stunning footage of Aretha Franklin from 1972 makes a magnificent new documentary film.

This remarkable documentary shows Aretha Franklin in 1972, performing a collection of gospel classics along with a community choir in a Los Angeles church. For various technical and legal reasons, it has remained unseen by the public until now. The wait has been worthwhile; it is simply magnificent.

As a film, it could hardly be simpler: it shows Franklin (who died last year) singing these extraordinary songs over two nights. She is often shown in close-up; the camera sometimes cuts away to her choir or the congregation. And that’s it; no commentary, no talking heads, just this (literally) divine music.

She was not yet 30 at this point, and already a famous pop star, but she had grown up absorbing gospel music; her father C.L. Franklin (who appears in the film) was a Baptist Minister. In Amazing Grace, she seamlessly adapts to different musical styles, performing Carole King’s delightful You’ve Got A Friend first as a touching pop ballad, then as a rousing gospel song.

It’s impossible not to be affected by the sheer passion of her singing. The film may look somewhat rough around the edges, but its impact is overwhelming; her voice could make believers out of heathens.

Amazing Grace opens on May 10

Saga customers can enjoy exclusive offers from both Saga and our carefully chosen partners, entertaining and informative features, the chance to win fantastic prizes, and more. Find out about Saga customer benefits today.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.