Amistad (1997) Movie Review

amistad 1997 film summary

Title: Amistad
Year: 1997
Genre: Drama/History
Play time: 2h 35min
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey, Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman

Amistad is the kind of movie that makes a tired topic seem fresh and entertaining again. It tells the true story of a French slave ship called La Amistad and the mutiny that occured on it. When the ship finally reaches America, the slaves responsible for the mutiny (led by Cinque, played with incredible power by the impressive newcomer Djimon Hounsau) are to stand trial for murder. To defend the slaves is a young, ambitious lawyer named Baldwin, played by Matthew McConaughey, whom I hate with all my soul. Nevertheless, he gives a respectable performance.

Amistad Is a Wonderful Movie

The movie features a few painfully forced scenes, like Cinque shouting “Give us free!” in the middle of the trial. The character seems to self-contained to do such a thing. But that’s a minor complaint. Amistad is a wonderful film. Steven Spielberg again shows his uncanny ability to make a serious film very entertaining. Anthony Hopkins, as president John Quincy Adams, shows exactly why he is probably the best actor out there right now. And the remarkable Hounsau, while new to the English language is great as the battered slave, giving us a character to really sympathize with.

Spielberg’s Facts on The Table – Amistad (1997)

But perhaps the best thing about Amistad is Spielberg’s direction. He doesn’t preach to us, he doesn’t judge right or wrong. He simply puts facts out on the table. There are no “villains” in this movie, as all of the people that argue against the slaves are never portrayed as evil or malicious. President Martin Van Buren, who constantly tries to manipulate things so the Africans do not win isn’t acting any worse than any modern politician would, because he is only trying to get reelected. District Attorney Holibird, who is the prosecutor is a very intelligent man, not manipulative in any way.

Amistad The Film Unbiased & Impartial

There is no point to prove for Spielberg here. Because anyone can side with the good guys, have them triumph and then live happily ever after. But Amistad has a quiet and somber ending, no “happily ever after”. It’s easy to make heroes and villains. But to simply tell a story, unbiased and impartial…. The lack of filmmakers that can do that may be the biggest problem in today’s cinema.

Seeking in movies meaning and reflection in real-time. On the look out for biography, thriller & drama best pieces.

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