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
Baldwin's statement at 33:30 that "the only way one may sell or purchase slaves is if they are born slaves, as on a plantation" refers to the fact that the importation of slaves into the United States was made illegal in 1808. Article 1, section 9 of the US Constitution protected the slave trade for 20 years following ratification, making 1808 the earliest that such restrictions could legally be enacted.
This law was commonly flouted, as the events of the movie depict. However, there was a definite effort on the part of the United States to enforce the law, and the role of the Navy was expanded to include patrols off the coasts of Cuba and South America to intercept slave ships. See more »
In 1839, the Capitol building was topped by a small copper dome. This dome was removed in 1856, and the present dome completed in 1863. 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.
31 of 45 people found this review helpful.
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