Concert footage from 1972 of Aretha Franklin performing songs from the best-selling gospel album at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles.
Amazing Grace was not released on schedule in 1972 due to difficulties syncing the audio tracks with the visual print, and was relegated to the vault at Warner Bros. until 2007, when producer Alan Elliott purchased the raw footage and attempted to sync it. The pared-down footage, now 87 minutes in length, was planned for a 2011 release. However, Franklin sued Elliott for appropriating her likeness without permission, and the release date passed. Elliott made another attempt to premiere the film in 2015 at the Telluride Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and Chicago International Film Festival, but Franklin again sued him, this time for unknown reasons.
After Franklin’s death in 2018, her family made an arrangement to release the film, which premiered at the Doc NYC in 2018, before being released worldwide on April 5, 2019. The film was met with critical acclaim.
This is obviously one of the great music films. What distinguishes Amazing Grace, what lifts it to the penthouse, is a mix of energy and moment.
Amazing Grace can stand as an essential filmed record of what is undoubtedly one of the greatest gospel performances you’ll ever see.
Unsullied by talking-head interviews, sentimental reminiscences and other interstitial distractions, Amazing Grace simply chronicles two incredible concerts.