Christian Film 'Freedom' Depicting John Newton's Amazing Grace Releases, Ranks 4th Highest Budget after 'Passion of Christ'

( [email protected] ) Aug 13, 2014 01:45 AM EDT

A Christian film about John Newton's role in the slave trade and the abolition movement is expected to be released in Australia and New Zealand next week. "Freedom" stars Cuba Gooding, Jr, who plays a slave fleeing to Canada via the Underground Railroad while being pursued by vicious slave hunters.

Freedom - A Christian Movie About John Newton's Amazing Grace
(Photo: IMDB)

John Newton, the man who penned the beloved hymn known as "Amazing Grace," was a captain of African slave ships as a young man. He would later become a supporter of abolishing the slave trade in Britain after coming to Christ in the 1750's. "[Newton] found Christ in a storm and his life changed forever," says the film's writer and producer, Timothy Chey.

Newton became friends with English politician William Wilberforce, who lead the movement to abolish slave trading in Britain. "It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders," Newton wrote in a widely circulated pamphlet entitled "Thoughts Upon the Slave Trade" in his later years.

The movie has the fourth-highest budget for a Christian film, and stars Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Samuel Woodward, a slave who escapes from a Virginian plantation with his family and is helped by the Underground Railroad to flee to Canada in 1856. William Sadler also stars in the film, and Gooding's wife is played by Sharon Leal.

Freedom" is scheduled to be released in Australia on August 21, with its debut in the United States expected in early 2015.