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About a 1839 mutiny aboard a slave ship that is traveling towards the northeastern coast of America. Much of the story involves a court-room drama about the free man who led the revolt.

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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 38 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Secretary John Forsyth
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Yamba
Abu Bakaar Fofanah ...
Fala
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Calderon
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Derrick N. Ashong ...
Buakei
Geno Silva ...
Ruiz
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Storyline

Amistad is the name of a slave ship traveling from Cuba to the U.S. in 1839. It is carrying a cargo of Africans who have been sold into slavery in Cuba, taken on board, and chained in the cargo hold of the ship. As the ship is crossing from Cuba to the U.S., Cinque, who was a tribal leader in Africa, leads a mutiny and takes over the ship. They continue to sail, hoping to find help when they land. Instead, when they reach the United States, they are imprisoned as runaway slaves. They don't speak a word of English, and it seems like they are doomed to die for killing their captors when an abolitionist lawyer decides to take their case, arguing that they were free citizens of another country and not slaves at all. The case finally gets to the Supreme Court, where John Quincy Adams makes an impassioned and eloquent plea for their release. Written by M Parkinson, Sarasota, FL, USA

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Freedom is not given. It is our right at birth. But there are some moments when it must be taken. See more »

Genres:

Drama | History

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some scenes of strong brutal violence and some related nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

25 December 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amistad - Das Sklavenschiff  »

Box Office

Budget:

$36,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$4,661,866 (USA) (12 December 1997)

Gross:

$44,175,394 (USA) (3 April 1998)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Quincy Adams was the only United States president to be elected to the House of Representatives after his presidency (Andrew Johnson was elected to the US Senate). While considered an undistinguished president, his seventeen years in the House earned him the respect of colleagues of all parties. See more »

Goofs

No presidential candidate campaigned in person until very late in the 19th Century. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Ruiz: [to Pedro Montes] That one wants us to sail them back. That one thinks he can sail all the way back without us.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The events depicted did not historically occur at Fort El Morro See more »

Connections

Referenced in 4 More Days (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Columbia, The Gem Of The Ocean
(1843)
Traditional
Written by David T. Shaw (uncredited)
Arranged by Thomas A. Beckett (uncredited)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
excellent, thought provoking tale of the agony of slavery
29 March 1999 | by (Broken Bow, Oklahoma) – See all my reviews

The horrors of slavery are depicted here in graphic detail. The scenes dealing with the ships carrying their human cargo were awful - very hard to sit and watch. When the slaves were brought to America, a huge trial ensued over whether or not they should be freed or not. This was a big production complete with all the costumes of the era - the early 19th century. Great story, dialogue, and acting made this a must see film.


31 of 45 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Historically inaccurate and laughable film Epicureum
Most disturbing film ever? frogca
They didn't even care to cast native Spanish speakers, for God's sake mariazambruno-532-451431
Why Slaves? NewCliches
Justice Blackmun: how did Spielberg pull this one off? matthewparry
NEED HELP FINDING A MOVIE!!! handsome_b_wonderful92
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