In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States when the ship is captured off the coast of Long Island. The courts must decide whether the Mende are slaves or legally free.
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
In real life, Roger Sherman Baldwin (played by Matthew McConaughey) was an older and more experienced lawyer than his character is in the movie. A grandson of Roger Sherman (signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution), Baldwin was in his late 40s, and a member of the Connecticut State Senate when he took the defense of the Amistad captives. After the Amistad case, Baldwin was elected Governor, and later U.S. Senator for the state of Connecticut. He died in 1863. See more »
During the first scene with John Quincy Adams, he is being derided by another Congressman. Adams replies by referring to the man as "Representative Pinckney." Although the Pinckneys were a prominent American family in the nation's early years, none of them served in the House at the time of the Amistad case. See more »
[to Pedro Montes]
That one wants us to sail them back. That one thinks he can sail all the way back without us.
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The events depicted did not historically occur at Fort El Morro See more »
excellent, thought provoking tale of the agony of slavery
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.
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