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.
As the American 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.
During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy in court, and then help the CIA facilitate an exchange of the spy for the Soviet captured American U2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers.
Amistad is the name of a slave ship travelling 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 (Djimon Hounsou), who was a tribal leader in Africa, leads a mutiny and takes over the ship. They continue to sail, hoping to find their way back to Africa. Instead, they are misdirected and 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 (Sir Anthony Hopkins) makes an impassioned and eloquent plea for their release.Written by
M Parkinson, Sarasota, FL, USA
Producer Debbie Allen spent fourteen years shopping this story around Hollywood before it entered production. See more »
The movie suggests that the Spanish slave fortress Lomboko was taken and demolished by the British navy even yet before the return of the Africans to Sierra Leone.
In reality the freed men where taken back to Africa in 1842. The ransacking of the slave factory happened only in 1849. 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.
See more »
The events depicted did not historically occur at Fort El Morro See more »
The board of film censors of Jamaica have excised the opening scenes, depicting a violent slave uprising on a ship, from all copies of the film released in Jamaican theatres. See more »
Continuing my plan to watch every Steven Spielberg movie in order, I come to Amistad.
I hold my hands up, and say I was totally wrong on this movie. It did nothing for me the first time I watched it. Yet, when I rewatched it I was blown away. It's not perfect, its historically inaccurate and Morgan Freeman is surprisingly under used. We get a lot of shots of him looking on, but not actually doing a lot.
All the cast are great, and Spielberg knows how to tug on the heartstrings.
Amistad was mostly ignored by cinemagoers upon its release the 50th highest grossing movie of 1997. With a $44 million dollar domestic gross.
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