Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace is one of her most famous works: a soaring, beautiful album that went on to sell over 2 million copies, becoming the bestselling gospel record of all time. The whole thing was recorded live in a church over the course of two days, and luckily for all of us, legendary actor and filmmaker Sydney Pollack (THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR) was there to capture it.
But unluckily for Pollack, he and his crew made a major technical error. It turns out the crew never used a clapboard (those black-and-white striped sticks that they snap together before calling, “Action!”), which is used in editing to sync up picture and sound. So for the last four decades, this incredible footage capturing the recording of one of the greatest albums of all time has been unseen due to the gargantuan effort required to manually sync Pollack’s imagery with the audio of Franklin’s extraordinary voice.
Thankfully, producer Alan Elliott was able to navigate all of that, along with some ongoing contractual disputes (seriously, this man has been striving to release this film for 29 years), so that we can all finally see this rousing, vibrant document of The Queen of Soul at the height of her powers.
"It’s the closest thing to witnessing a miracle — just some cameras, a crowd and a voice touched by God." - Rolling Stone
“Nothing short of a revelation, soaring from one chill-inducing moment to another” - NPR
“It’s very existence is a miracle” - The New Yorker
“A full-on experience, body and soul.” - Vox
“Everybody deserves to have Aretha Franklin take them to the moon.” - The New York Times
"'Amazing Grace' can now be seen in all its aesthetic, spiritual and historical glory. And even more gratifyingly, it is as simple and unaffected as Aretha Franklin herself is in the film." - Washington Post
"'Amazing Grace' is a showcase of one of America’s greatest talents and a rush of pure spiritual uplift. There are only so many ways to praise Franklin’s voice and they all fall short – just go and hear it for yourself." - The Playlist
"One of the great performances of the 20th century." - The AV Club
"'Amazing Grace' is a rousing performance lensed with simple, raw, intimate filmmaking that’s unforgettable and nourishing for the soul." - The Film Stage
"You get both the most lovely gaze a professional camera’s ever laid upon Aretha Franklin and some of the mightiest singing she’s ever laid on you. The woman practically eulogizes herself. Don’t bother with tissues. Bring a towel." - The New York Times
"The effect is ecstatic; she sounds like the holiest of trumpets, with every note piercingly bright yet as soft as velvet. Listening to Franklin, you feel like you could ride that voice into the heavens. She’s not just a singer, she’s a human chariot." - Variety
"The result was one of the most acclaimed albums of her career — and one of the most elusive film projects of all time, full of twists and turns that would have made Orson Welles order a stiff drink." - New York Magazine
"'Amazing Grace' is a movie worth seeing and re-seeing and re-seeing again, a testament to the Queen of Soul at the height of her powers, live, in full color, in rich sound, resplendent." - The Wrap
"It’s raw religion, and it’s a treasure." - Screen International
"Part of the fun of 'Amazing Grace' is watching not just those in the thrall of Franklin (Mick Jagger can be seen bopping in the back of the church) but witnessing the awe Franklin evokes." - The Associated Press