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Amistad (1997)

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2:32 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Steven Spielberg

Writer:

David Franzoni
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Popularity
3,296 ( 357)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 39 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Morgan Freeman ... Theodore Joadson
Nigel Hawthorne ... Martin Van Buren
Anthony Hopkins ... John Quincy Adams
Djimon Hounsou ... Cinque
Matthew McConaughey ... Roger Sherman Baldwin
David Paymer ... Secretary John Forsyth
Pete Postlethwaite ... Holabird
Stellan Skarsgård ... Tappan
Razaaq Adoti ... Yamba
Abu Bakaar Fofanah Abu Bakaar Fofanah ... Fala
Anna Paquin ... Queen Isabella
Tomas Milian ... Calderon
Chiwetel Ejiofor ... Ensign Covey
Derrick N. Ashong Derrick N. Ashong ... Buakei
Geno Silva ... Ruiz
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Freedom is not given. It is our right at birth. But there are some moments when it must be taken. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Harry A. Blackmun (U.S. Associate Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story) served as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice from 1970 to 1994. See more »

Goofs

The Portuguese ship "Tecora" carries the American flag as a disguise in order to avoid British inspections from the Royal Navy and its privateers. 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 »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Connections

Featured in Spielberg on Spielberg (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Columbia, The Gem Of The Ocean
(1843)
Traditional
Written by David T. Shaw (uncredited)
Arranged by Thomas A. Beckett (uncredited)
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User Reviews

 
excellent, thought provoking tale of the agony of slavery
29 March 1999 | by helpless_dancerSee all my reviews

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.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Mende | Spanish | Portuguese

Release Date:

25 December 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Amistad See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$36,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,573,523, 14 December 1997

Gross USA:

$44,229,441

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$44,229,441
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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