AmistadHD Closed Captioning
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This Steven Spielberg-directed exploration into a long-ago episode in African-American history recounts the trial that followed the 1839 rebellion aboard the Spanish slave ship Amistad and captures the complex political maneuverings set in motion by the event. Filmed in New England and Puerto Rico, the 152-minute drama opens with a pre-credit sequence showing Cinque (Djimon Hounsou) and the other Africans in a violent takeover of the Amistad. Captured, they are imprisoned in New England where former slave Theodore Joadson (Morgan Freeman), viewing the rebels as "freedom fighters," approaches property lawyer Baldwin (Matthew McConaughey), who attempts to prove the Africans were "stolen goods" because they were kidnapped. Running for re-election, President Martin Van Buren (Nigel Hawthorne) overturns the lower court's decision in favor of the Africans. Former President John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins) is reluctant to become involved, but when the case moves on to the Supreme Court, Adams stirs emotions with a powerful defense. The storyline occasionally cuts away to Spain where the young Queen Isabella (Anna Paquin) plays with dolls; she later debated the Amistad case with seven U.S. presidents. The character portrayed by Morgan Freeman is a fictional composite of several historical figures. For authentic speech, the Africans speak the Mende language, subtitled during some scenes but not others.
- David Franzoni
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 61
- Fresh: 46
- Rotten: 15
- Average Rating: 6.9/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: The best parts of Amistad are those that simply bring their pride, fear and outrage to life.
Fresh: As Spielberg vehicles go, Amistad -- part mystery, action thriller, courtroom drama, even culture-clash comedy -- lands between the disturbing lyricism of Schindler's List and the storybook artificiality of The Color Purple.
Rotten: Amistad is prestige filmmaking bereft of inspiration -- sometimes even of the nuts and bolts of craft.
Fresh: What is most valuable about Amistad is the way it provides faces and names for its African characters, whom the movies so often make into faceless victims.