Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

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.



2,833 ( 452)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 38 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A young English boy struggles to survive under Japanese occupation during World War II.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A black Southern woman struggles to find her identity after suffering abuse from her father and others over four decades.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey
Always (1989)
Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A romantic adventure about a legendary pilot's passion for dare-devil firefighting and his girl.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, Brad Johnson
1941 (1979)
Action | Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Hysterical Californians prepare for a Japanese invasion in the days after Pearl Harbor.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Treat Williams
Munich (2005)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Based on the true story of the Black September aftermath, about the five men chosen to eliminate the ones responsible for that fateful day.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Marie-Josée Croze
War Horse (2011)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Young Albert enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. Albert's hopeful journey takes him out of England and to the front lines as the war rages on.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

After an encounter with U.F.O.s, a line worker feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr
Adventure | Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A highly advanced robotic boy longs to become "real" so that he can regain the love of his human mother.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A woman attempts to reunite her family by helping her husband escape prison and together kidnapping their son. But things don't go as planned when they are forced to take a police hostage on the road.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Goldie Hawn, Ben Johnson, Michael Sacks
Lincoln (2012)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

As the Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A young lawyer defends a black man accused of murdering two men who raped his 10-year-old daughter, sparking a rebirth of the K.K.K.

Director: Joel Schumacher
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson
Duel (TV Movie 1971)
Action | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A business commuter is pursued and terrorized by the malevolent driver of a massive tractor-trailer.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott, Eddie Firestone


Cast overview, first billed only:
Secretary John Forsyth
Abu Bakaar Fofanah ...
Derrick N. Ashong ...
Geno Silva ...


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


A true story. See more »


Drama | History

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:





| | |

Release Date:

25 December 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amistad - Das Sklavenschiff  »

Box Office


$36,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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


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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Theodore Joadson (Morgan Freeman's character) is a fictional creation. In real life, it was Josiah Willard Gibbs, Sr. (played by Austin Pendleton), a Yale professor of theology and sacred literature, who discovered James Covey, the Mende sailor who served as a translator for the Amistad captives. As depicted in the film, Gibbs learned to count to ten in Mende, and wandered around the docks of New York repeating the numbers, until Covey heard and recognized his own language and spoke to the professor. See more »


In one scene, where Isabella II is dining, a portrait of Louis XIV is hanging in the dining room. Even though Isabella was his Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter, it's very unlikely that the Royal Palace of a Spanish Monarch would have a portrait of a French king prominently displayed, especially one who had been dead for 115 years when Isabella II was born. The portrait is actually hanging in the dining room of "Marble House" in Newport, Rhode Island, where much of the movie was filmed. See more »


[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 »


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


I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord
Written by Aaron Williams
Lyrics by Timothy Dwight (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Powerful for Images of Slavery, but Only a Fair Portrayal of Legal Battle
12 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I am a fan of historically-based dramas. I enjoy the genre, and Amistad did not disappoint me. It is well shot, the look and feel is quite right, and it pulls no punches in its cruel depiction of the slave trade.

Amistad shows this terrible business better than any other film I've ever seen. It portrays all the horrors: the capture of Africans at the hands of rival tribes; the abusive loading of slaves onto ships; the deplorable conditions; the murder and violence conducted in the name of economics; the hopelessness of the slaves' position; the crass indifference felt by the traders, auctioneers, owners and passers-by. Spielberg pulled few punches, only darkening the worst scenes to keep it from degenerating into some Rob Zombie horror film (thereby retaining an audience).

The film also does a good job with the portrayal of the heroes, the slaves who fought for their freedom aboard the schooner Amistad. You can really feel their anger, confusion, and frustration as the events unfold. They are a people pushed from one holding cell to another, subjected to trials and procedures incomprehensible to them (both for language barriers and for the inanity of it all).

One part the filmmakers did a fine job with was the communication barrier. Some of the best scenes involve the ignorance of the Connecticut gentry as they stare blankly at the Africans as they speak their tongue; incompetent linguists stating the obvious and disguising it as "science"; lawyers trying to figure out the slaves' stories; and finally the leader of the escaped Africans declaring "Give us free!" That part really stood out for me.

There are a few criticisms I can lay upon this film, however. Firstly, they didn't do that great of a job in portraying courtroom drama. Filmed in '97, this film predates some great television courtroom dramas (Law & Order, The Practice). Much of what happens in court is either boring or confusing or pointless. I think if Spielberg was able to study some of these great courtroom dramas, these parts would have had a lot more "punch". Having said that, Anthony Hopkins did some fine delivery as John Quincy Adams...

Another element I disliked was the clumsy interweaving of the "Big Slavery Picture" elements. There's a scene at President Van Buren's state dinner where Senator John Calhoun of South Carolina shows up and makes threats of civil war. The scene was really just thrown in there to try to put in some jeopardy, but the film was doing just fine without that. The intrigue between Van Buren and the Spanish girl queen was really nice, however (a very young Anna Paquin!).

The last element that didn't work too well was Morgan Freeman's character, Joadson. He really comes across as little more than an extra. He's such a fine actor, the script doesn't do him justice.

For the most part, this is a fine, and important, film. It just misses a few marks that would have made it a great film.

8 out of 10.

27 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Historically inaccurate and laughable film Epicureum
Most disturbing film ever? frogca
Why Slaves? NewCliches
They didn't even care to cast native Spanish speakers, for God's sake mariazambruno-532-451431
Justice Blackmun: how did Spielberg pull this one off? matthewparry
NEED HELP FINDING A MOVIE!!! handsome_b_wonderful92
Discuss Amistad (1997) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: