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Amistad

2h 35m Biography, Drama, History 1997

In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States.

In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States.

Price: $4.99 + taxes and fees

On one hand, Amistad is a 19th-century courtroom drama, with Matthew McConaughey, Anthony Hopkins, Pete Postlethwaite trading legal arguments and personal barbs for our entertainment. On the other, it’s a moral drama about America’s complicity in the global slave trade, featuring a devastating, Oscar-nominated performance from Djimon Hounsou as Sengbe Pieh, the leader of the 1839 revolt aboard the Cuban slave ship La Amistad who wound up on trial for piracy and murder in New Haven, Connecticut. There are white-saviour elements to the story, which focuses on McConaughey’s bright-eyed lawyer — supported by Morgan Freeman’s Theodore Joadson — as he takes on the US government over the very concept of enslaved people, but then Spielberg shatters the manicured drama with a re-creation of the Middle Passage, at the time the most graphic and unflinching depiction of the horrors enslaved Africans experienced at the hands of their captors. Whatever happens in that courtroom, it won’t negate the suffering that preceded it — and that most of America is happy to continue.

NORM WILNER

Director

Steven Spielberg

Language

English

Captions

English

Country

USA

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