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.
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
This movie omits part of the aftermath of the Amistad legal case. For several years, the Spanish government continued to press the United States for compensation for the ship and its cargo, including the slaves. Several southern lawmakers introduced Congressional resolutions to appropriate money for such payment, but none passed, despite support from Democratic Presidents James Knox Polk and James Buchanan. See more »
The Amistad came into port in August, when no snow would be present. 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 »
Beautifully told, it also made me go back to History books to double check or to confirm. That's what good movies also do, they provoke you into wanting to know more. I loved Djimon Hounsou - a sensational film presence and his soulfulness permeates the whole journey. Anthony Hopkins is a remarkable John Quincy Adams. The great Steven Spielberg doesn't shy away from the horrors and some of it is truly harrowing but even then the preciousness of the image protects you from excesses. I don't know if that is a flaw or just a grand commercial concession. I couldn't help trying to imagine, this story even the same script in the hands of an Arthur Penn for instance. After all of that, let me say I enjoyed it, I was moved and I will see it again.
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