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Amistad (1997)

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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 & 39 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Theodore Joadson
... Martin Van Buren
... John Quincy Adams
... Cinque
... Roger Sherman Baldwin
... Secretary John Forsyth
... Holabird
... Tappan
... Yamba
Abu Bakaar Fofanah ... Fala
... Queen Isabella
... Calderon
... Ensign Covey
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 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 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 »

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

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

25 December 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amistad - Das Sklavenschiff  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$36,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,661,866, 14 December 1997, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$44,175,394, 5 April 1998

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$16,200,000, 15 March 1998
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Isabella II of Spain (reigned 1833-1868), depicted in the film, had a troublesome reign. She was only 3-years-old when she succeeded to the throne, as the eldest surviving daughter of Ferdinand VII of Spain. Her paternal uncle Carlos, Count of Molina claimed the throne as the senior male in the royal family. This caused a civil war, the First Carlist War (1833-1840), with both rival claimants serving as figureheads for opposing political factions. Isabella was deposed in a revolution in 1868 and spend the rest of her life in exile, in Paris, France. She died in 1904. See more »

Goofs

In the Supreme Court scene, when John Q. Adams is making his speech before the justices, he reaches for a document that is handed to him by Baldwin. Baldwin hands him a single sheet with a ribbon seal, but in Adams's hands it becomes the "Review" pamphlet with several pages. 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.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in The Brothers (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

The Ladder Is Broken
Traditional West African Chant
Adapted by Arthur Abraham (as Dr. Arthur Abraham) and Debbie Allen
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An amazing story of history and freedom
16 February 2008 | by 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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