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A House Divided (2000)

In the aftermath of the terrible Civil War which has devastated the South, Amanda America Dixon returns home to find she has become the sole heir to a vast cotton plantation. But the ... See full summary »


John Kent Harrison


Kent Anderson Leslie (book), Paris Qualles (screenplay)
3 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sam Waterston ... David Dickson
Jennifer Beals ... Amanda Dickson
LisaGay Hamilton ... Julia
Tim Daly ... Charles Dubose
Shirley Douglas ... Elizabeth Dickson
Sean McCann Sean McCann ... Rutherford
Ron White ... Henry Dickson
Colin Fox ... Doctor Lovick
Adrian Hough ... Lt. Brooks
Alison Sealy-Smith Alison Sealy-Smith ... Ruth
Gerard Parkes ... Judge Stevens
Dara Perlmutter Dara Perlmutter ... Amanda (age 10)
Kayla Perlmutter Kayla Perlmutter ... Amanda (age 5)
Omar McIntosh Omar McIntosh ... Young Boy
Troy Seivwright-Adams Troy Seivwright-Adams ... Silvester


In the aftermath of the terrible Civil War which has devastated the South, Amanda America Dixon returns home to find she has become the sole heir to a vast cotton plantation. But the dreadful secret which has blighted her life threatens to deprive her of the birthright which her beloved father David had struggled for so long to create. Raised by her father and grandmother to be the perfect white Southern Belle, Amanda's true mother was a black slave Julia. Confronted with the forces of greed and bigotry, Amanda has to face not only the hatred of a racist world, but the complex truth of a family whose lives have been built on a lie. Written by jbjb

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent material including a sexual assault, and for some language | See all certifications »






Release Date:

30 July 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Amanda America See more »

Filming Locations:

Ontario, Canada See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The movie centers on a trial challenging the validity of a Georgia plantation owner's will leaving the land to the illegitimate daughter he fathered with his Black slave in the 1840s. The film shows this to be a jury trial. That caused alarms to go off in my head since jury trials generally are not permitted in probate cases in the US. I did a quick Google search. According to an article in the November 1986 Georgia State Bar Journal, page 96, jury trials were first allowed in Georgia probate court on July 1, 1986, about 100 years after this trial supposedly took place. See more »


References Pinky (1949) See more »

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User Reviews

Fascinating 1800s family drama
28 October 2017 | by HotToastyRagSee all my reviews

In the opening scene of A House Divided, Sam Waterston is found dead in his room. Don't worry, he's not out of the picture! During the reading of his will, his brother contests the fact that Sam has left everything to his daughter, Jennifer Beals, and moves to settle the matter in court. As the young lawyer who helped draft the will tries to help, he unearths deep-seeded family secrets.

The majority of A House Divided is told in flashbacks, but it isn't at all distracting, like some nonlinear stories are. The present and past are spliced in perfect places, letting the audience crave and learn more at exactly the right times. It's a period piece, in mid-1800s Georgia; fans of Civil War dramas are going to love this movie, even though it doesn't have anything to do with the war. As a young girl, LisaGay Hamilton is bought by Sam Waterston's family. Sam takes an inappropriate interest in her, but even in the midst of his harassments, he discovers and respects her intelligence and elevates her from a housemaid to helping his accounts of the plantation. The relationship between Sam and LisaGay is fascinating, and one of the most incredible elements of the film. He's shown as a despicable person at first, but in other scenes, he seems to appreciate, respect, and even treasure her. She hates him, but doesn't let that hatred define her, even when she suffers unspeakable tragedies. Then again, when she sees his body at the start of the film, she doesn't appear to hate him at all.

In addition to the interesting dichotomy of the characters in Paris Qualles's script, the acting in A House Divided is wonderful. While LisaGay Hamilton has been in some famous films, she isn't close to being the household name she should be. She's a very pretty woman and a fantastic actress, showing a perfect spread of emotions as her scenes call for it. You'll probably reach for your Kleenexes more than once when she's on the screen. Jennifer Beals, not normally known for her acting chops, also does a very good job, and has a flawless Southern accent.

One of the things I love about Sam Waterston is that no matter what time period he's in, from Lincoln to The Great Gatsby to Law & Order, it always feels like he belongs in that era. And while he does some terrible things in this movie, he doesn't play the character as an inarguable villain. There's so much confliction in his scenes. He and LisaGay will keep you thinking and talking long after the movie's over.

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