7.3/10
63,917
231 user 81 critic

Amistad (1997)

Trailer
2:32 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
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
Reviews
Popularity
4,049 ( 107)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 39 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Drama
    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
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
Munich (2005)
Drama | History | 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
Always (1989)
Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The spirit of a recently deceased expert pilot mentors a newer pilot while watching him fall in love with the girlfriend that he left behind.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, Brad Johnson
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
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

After an accidental encounter with otherworldly vessels, an ordinary man follows a series of psychic clues to the first scheduled meeting between representatives of Earth and visitors from the cosmos.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr
War Horse (2011)
Drama | History | 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
Lincoln (2012)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

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.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn
1941 (1979)
Action | Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

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

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Treat Williams
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
The Terminal (2004)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An Eastern European tourist unexpectedly finds himself stranded in JFK airport, and must take up temporary residence there.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chi McBride
Duel (TV Movie 1971)
Action | Horror | 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
Edit

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 Geno Silva ... Ruiz
Edit

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:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Mende | Spanish | Portuguese

Release Date:

25 December 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Amistad - Das Sklavenschiff See more »

Edit

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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Post-production was done rarely with Steven Spielberg, due to his commitment to Saving Private Ryan (1998). See more »

Goofs

Martin Van Buren was never photographed while in office, and in 1839 photography was extremely new technology and not widespread. The first president to be photographed while in office was Van Buren's immediate successor William Henry Harrison in March 1841. Van Buren was photographed in 1845, well after he had left office, but he was not wearing a sash as depicted in the movie. Former Presidents John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson were also photographed that same year. 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 »


Soundtracks

Ya Weh
Traditional West African Chant
Adapted by Arthur Abraham (as Dr. Arthur Abraham) and Debbie Allen
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Powerful, gripping drama from Spielberg
11 August 1998 | by SridharSee all my reviews

What is freedom? How does one determine who is free? In 1839, those questions were more difficult to answer then they are now. Yet, the mistakes of our forefathers must be examined in order to rectify current situations.

That is, in essence, what Steven Spielberg's gripping drama "Amistad" is about. Through its various dramas, Spielberg presents a case about a group of Africans, who, after being seized from their home, were forced onto a ship and sent to the United States aboard "La Amistad". On their way there, the slaves, led by Cinque (Djimon Hounsou), rebelled, killing off part of the crew. However, the ship was still directed towards the United States, where the Africans were brought to trial under murder.

In the court, various factions claim ownership of the slaves, and therefore try to seize them away. The United States government, led by President Martin Van Buren (Nigel Hawthorne), and Secretary of State Secretary Forsyth (David Paymer), try to ship the Africans to Spain, where an 11 year old Isabella II (Anna Paquin) wants them back. The two Spaniards who own "La Amistad" want the slaves for themselves. The American ship that found the slaves also wants them. In the midst of this are two abolitionists (Stellan Skaarsgard and Morgan Freeman), who want the slaves to be free. They enlist the help of lawyer Matthew McConaughey, who tries to free them. Through various legal proceedings, the case appears before the Supreme Court, where it is argued by ex-President John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins).

The film itself is a visual wonder. Spielberg favorite Janusz Kaminski sets the film in a dark, somber mood when appropriate, and a visual setting when appropriate as well. At times, the film is very slow, and very methodical. Spielberg is not at his finest here, the courtroom scenes have a tendency to lag. But Spielberg's finest work in the film, the opening scene, a scene of Cinque's family, and the brutal voyage of the slaves to America, is altogether stunning. It is this emotional force that carries the film. McConaughey is superb as the lawyer defending the Africans, Hopkins is sensational as the old Adams, Freeman is outstanding when used (Spielberg vastly under uses his supreme talents), and the rest of the cast is stellar. The movie, however, belongs to Hounsou. His emotional intensity is brilliant. Spielberg manages to make even the slowest scenes sparkle with focus on Hounsou, and the film's extraordinary power is simply captivating. The film is flawed, for most of the supporting characters are merely cardboard. But that doesn't matter. The story is a gripping one, and one of extreme importance. Kudos to Spielberg for finding it, finding the right men for the job, and letting the audience listen to the words of Cinque. A good job all around. ***1/2 out of 4, or an 8 out of 10.


56 of 73 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 231 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed