7.2/10
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Amistad (1997)

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.

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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:

A true story. 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

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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

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Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Quincy Adams addresses the Supreme Court and states that when faced with trouble the Mende people invoke the help of their ancestors. As he mentions this we see a portrait of his father John Adams just over his left shoulder. See more »

Goofs

There is a scene where the men are shown lying on their bunks and their heads are all moving to the rocking motion of the ship. However, there is a chain hanging nearby that is not moving at all. This is because the ship was in port when this scene was filmed and someone out of view was leading all the actors to move their heads to give the impression that the ship was sailing on the high seas. 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.
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Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in Private Practice: The Next Episode (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Timuyandya
Written by Debbie Allen, Chike Okpala, El Hadj Malik Sow, Sheriff Kargbo
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
An amazing story of history and freedom
16 February 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

While theatergoers in 1997 were being amazed by special effects on another ship, this magnificent story given to us by the master director Steven Spielberg gives us the true story of our country and what it means to be American.

We are not free as long as one of us is in chains. As John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins) so eloquently put it, "...what are we to do with that embarrassing, annoying document, The Declaration of Independence? What of its conceits? "All men created equal," "inalienable rights," "life, liberty," and so on and so forth?" The Civil War was, indeed, the last battle of The American Revolution.

What a cast! You can search for Fool's Gold or you can watch Matthew McConaughey in her greatest performance as the lawyer who risked it all.

Djimon Hounsou may Never Back Down this year, as he certainly didn't in this film.

Morgan Freeman certainly knows about "Freedom: A History of Us" and he helped the Africans find theirs.

One of the very best films I have ever seen.


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