Flaherty cites how Lewis talked about the paradox that "great fantasy heightens the readers' sense of reality and responsibility." J.R.R. Tolkien said the same about his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Heroes give children a more heroic imagination and worldview, a joy "beyond the walls of the world."
That's not to say that the Walden folks are lost in a fantasy land. Asked to define the Walden brand in one word, Flaherty responds: to "inspire." Walden not only strives to deliver a product parents can trust, but also produce movies that "spark conversations about big ideas." Hence, the Walden interest with inspirational films about history.
It is a sad reality: Very few adults, and virtually no child, can recognize the name William Wilberforce, the man Abraham Lincoln claimed was known to "every schoolboy" in America in 1858. Then there's this: "Amazing Grace" is the most recognizable hymn in the land -- but how many people can tell you its origin? To the rescue comes Walden again, with the movie "Amazing Grace," which tells the true and beautiful story of William Wilberforce, the brilliant British orator and parliamentarian who fought relentlessly to ban the slave trade in Great Britain and who ultimately succeeded, against all odds, decades before the United States fought a bloody civil war to do the same.
The movie title pays homage to John Newton, the English slavemaster-turned-Anglican clergyman who became Wilberforce's minister and inspiration. Newton had participated in the transportation of more than 20,000 slaves and converted to Christianity after being saved from death on a sinking slave ship. He not only converted, but dedicated himself to the abolition of this practice, even in declining health and facing the loss of his sight.
The movie is typically Walden -- a celebration of courage and the human spirit, leaving the viewer in stunned appreciation with the understanding, finally the understanding, of the words we've sung so many, many times. "I once was lost, but now am found/Was blind but now I see."
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