Amazing Grace - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Amazing Grace Reviews

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May 22, 2019
Since I always loved her music, this documentary was a real treat.
May 14, 2019
An artist at her peak. Like taking a time capsule and landing inside a church where Aretha is recording your favorite gospel album. Thankfully the documentary doesn't have any bells and whistles or talking heads doing tributes. Her voice on full blast in a movie theatre and the rapturous looks on the faces onscreen and in the theater says it all. What an absolute feast.
May 13, 2019
Not a documentary but the full video recording of a famous performance. She sings beautifully, but I was not expecting to see an hour and a half of Gospel music and nothing else (really, nothing else). I thought it would show some biography or something, but nope.
May 12, 2019
Very intimate and cathartic experience.
½ May 12, 2019
I love Aretha and her talent but this felt like a bunch of very amateur footage that had no story. I am sad to say I was completely bored, just waiting for something to happen.
½ May 9, 2019
It's a film about singing songs, not a documentary or anything else. I understand she sued several times to stop publication of the movie. Not worth seeing
May 5, 2019
Wow. That was intensely painful.

This "movie" consists solely of raw footage of Aretha in a hot, sweltering church, singing 90min worth of gospel.

No commentary, no editing, no history, no production boosts. Nothing but raw, unedited footage.

There is a reason why Aretha wouldn't allow this to be released during her lifetime. A total downer.
May 4, 2019
I smiled and tapped my foot the entire movie. Inspiring and phenomenal artist, there will never be another like her
May 4, 2019
It simply just doesn't get better than this. Pure gospel music. Aretha and her great band, the Reverend James Cleveland, a musical director named Alexander Hamilton and an incredible choir- not to mention the people who were gathered in the church to witness!
For those who know what talent is...
April 25, 2019
Just trying to balance out the SJW rankings on Rotten Tomatoes. It wasn't that good.
April 25, 2019
I felt like I was in the church with Aretha. In 1972. Completely transported! See this film. Everyone should see this national treasure at her finest.
April 24, 2019
I bought the double-album recording of this event back in 1980 when I first became an Aretha fan and I've cherished it ever since but seeing the film took it to another emotional level. I cried several times (happy tears) as well as laughed with jubilation. I almost stood with the congregation in the film. Forget speaking in tongues, this is charismatic! Go see it!
April 23, 2019
A moving and powerful experience. Aretha (Franklin) shows us why she's the greatest singer of the twentieth century. She takes you to church and back in a mesmerizing display of pure, almost unreal talent. If you love music you must see this film on the big screen. GET READY TO HAVE CHURCH AT THE MOVIES!!
½ April 22, 2019
movie,"Amazing Grace"(2018),I DO NOT RECOMMEND GOING to SEE THIS at a THEATER or MOVIE PLACE! It was NOT WORTH YOUR TIME and MONEY($) to GO SEE THIS. I saw this on Saturday April 20, 2019(in GREAT CITY:Austin,Texas), (I saw with around 150 other people who I did NOT KNOW, and practically ALL of THEM AGREED with my RATE (1.5 of high 5.0 RATED))!
April 20, 2019
I wanted to love it, but it just doesn't do her justice. Sorry. maybe that's why it took so long to release it. Maybe she didn't want it out. The biggest problem is that they have her voice softer than the choir and everyone else. She is under amplified. The balance is off. It was so frustrating. If only her track would have been louder. I never heard the album, so I can't say if this is an issue with the album. But it sure is an issue with the film. And this film was just too short. It felt like there were only 8 or 9 songs total. And why would they choose to record in an in air-conditioned space? The endless massive sweating by several singers was odd to behold. This is a great piece of history, but not a perfect documentary by any stretch. I was expecting so much more, musically.
April 20, 2019
The best movie I will see all year.
April 19, 2019
"Amazing Grace" is a revelation. That this documentary even exists is a miracle.

In January, 1972, a 29-year-old Aretha Franklin recorded a live gospel album. Over two days, with the help of Rev. James Cleveland (himself a well-known gospel singer), the Southern California Community Choir and the studio musicians who had helped make her the Queen of Soul on Atlantic Records, Aretha recorded at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles. "Amazing Grace," the resulting album, became the best-selling gospel recording of all time.

The songs selected for the album, and indirectly the film, are an eclectic blend. They include traditional gospel hymns, a mash-up of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" with the gospel tune "Precious Lord," Marvin Gaye's "Wholy Holy." With my Baptist upbringing, I was literally sobbing throughout "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" and "Amazing Grace" - with Aretha in full flight, the choir in full-throated response and the audience in rapture. In fairness, my wife, one of the more empathic souls on the planet, was completely dry-eyed and found the film "an interesting anthropology lesson." So your experience may vary.

Sensing that something magical was about the happen during these recording sessions, Warner Brothers studio (which owned Atlantic Records) hired director Sidney Pollack to document the proceedings. With five cameramen, he recorded every moment. The result was over twenty hours of audio recording and over 1500 video scenes, including shots of Mick Jagger standing, clapping and singing (the Stones were in LA to record "Exile on Main Street").

The structure of this documentary is quite bare-bones. There are almost no side conversations, no voiceovers for context and no interviews with any of the participants. This austere structure allows Pollack and his crew to focus on the most important task - capturing Aretha singing at the height of her powers, often in extreme close-up.

Now on to the miraculous part. Presumably because they were filming and recording a live performance, Pollack and his crew never "slated the scenes" (using the wood clapper to mark the beginning of the upcoming scene). In 1972, slating the scene was the only way to accurately sync 16mm video with the audio, which came from two different sources. After months of effort, including hiring Choir Director Alexander Hamilton for $200/week to lip-read some of the video, producers decided this problem was insurmountable. The project was abandoned and the materials shelved for decades.

In 2007, Producer Alan Elliott purchased the raw footage from Warner Brothers, unaware of the syncing problem. Fortunately, what was impossible in 1972 could by then be conquered through digitization. However, because the tapes had sat in a basement unattended for over 35 years, they first had to be "rebaked" (literally placed in an oven and heated to over 130 degrees) so they would not disintegrate while being digitally processed. The finally-synced footage was edited into the final version of the documentary by 2015. For reasons unknown, Aretha then sued to block release. Only after a screening for Franklin's family following Aretha's death last year did her estate eventually allow the film to be shown publicly.

So, this documentary is forty-seven years in the making, but wow, was it worth the wait. "Amazing Grace" - how sweet the sound!
April 14, 2019
I knew it was going to be special. I was not ready to have my mind blown. A masterclass in documentary filmmaking. I am still crying.
April 14, 2019
It was so nice, I saw it twice and still can't get it off my mind. I'm telling everyone I know to go see this movie I didn't even realize I was missing. Perfect even in its imperfection. Wonderful seeing Aretha and James Cleveland using, sharing and delighting in their craft.
April 13, 2019
The wait of nearly 50 years to see this iincredible film of Aretha and gospel music is finally for the world to see. The movie flies by listening to the incredible voice singing the music that she started singing at 5 years old.How odd it is to see a 30 years old Aretha, her father so young and handsome, and a young Jagger in the congregation. This is one of the movies of the decade.
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