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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

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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

Runtime:

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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

Martin Van Buren was never photographed while in office, and in 1839 photography was extremely new technology and not widespread. The first president to be photographed while in office was Van Buren's immediate successor William Henry Harrison in March 1841. Van Buren was photographed in 1845, well after he had left office, but he was not wearing a sash as depicted in the movie. Former Presidents John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson were also photographed that same year. 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

Featured in The Making of 'Amistad' (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Ya Weh
Traditional West African Chant
Adapted by Arthur Abraham (as Dr. Arthur Abraham) and Debbie Allen
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Whoever tells the best story wins
4 May 2006 | by (Vulcan) – See all my reviews

Amistad is a very well crafted, well acted, and well told story. It is also mostly true to the history of events surrounding the Amistad 'mutiny', and the defense of the Africans responsible for it by John Quincy Adams and a young lawyer named Baldwin. I put the word mutiny in quotes because it is absurd to think of people fighting against murder, enslavement and rape as any form of crime. The film is unabashed about showing us the brutality and outrageousness of the covertly institutionalized slave trade that haunted one of America's darkest, most retrograde periods, and pulls no punches about the cultural differences between its victims, its culprits, and those who felt that it was not their problem.

Amistad ranks as one of McConaughey's finest performances, perhaps his best. But nearly the entire cast is blown off the screen by the passionate, sensitive and profound performance of Djimon Hounsou. Hopkins is good as Adams, but what else is new? Though the film does not have a literary feel - it is pure cinema - it is a truly great story featuring bold characters and a deep and simple emotionality which draws its audience in. Alistad has a spirit that can only be described as truthfulness.

Despite his detractors, Spielburg proves again and again that morally decent films with positive messages can be entertaining and artfully crafted.

Highly recommended.


36 of 40 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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