Amistad This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


    In this incredibly well-done 1997movie, Steven Spielberg creates an historically accurate and extremelyentertaining piece, weaving a graphic story of oppression with 1830'scourtroom drama.

The movie opens with scenes involving littledialogue, and none in English. This drew me in and I had to pay closeattention to figure out what was going on. The graphic violence andshocking imagery made me want to look away from the screen, but it alsomade it impossible. By the time the action ended, I was intrigued to seehow these slaves would get off La Amistad and what would happen if theyencountered another ship.

The plot is intricate and, because theAfricans do not speak English, hard to follow at times. The Africanpeople are kidnapped from their villages and forced onto a slave ship.They rebel and kill all but two of the slavers on the ship. They demandtheir return to Africa but are tricked into sailing for America. Whenthey are picked up by an American ship, the question of whom these"slaves" belongs arises. Cinque, the large and formidableslave leader, meets Roger Baldwin, a small-time property lawyer whocomes to their aid. Baldwin and a freed black man, Theodore Jackson(Morgan Freeman), battle the lower court system and, with the help of atranslator, get the judge to believe that they are Africans as they say,not Cuban plantation slaves.

When the decision is appealed to theSupreme Court and fought by then President Martin Van Buren, Baldwingoes to former-President John Quincy Adams for help. After Quincy tellsthe story of how Cinque and his people were illegally kidnapped andtransported, the court decides they can go back to Africa.

Thismovie is very well cast. Djimon Hounsou as Cinque is extremely good,showing intense rage but also his desire to help. Morgan Freeman does agood job as usual, but the stand-out performance is Anthony Hopkins asJohn Quincy Adams. He can play any character; it is hard to believe heis the same guy who plays Hannibal Lector in "The Silence of theLambs."

Steven Spielberg is a master of historicallyaccurate and entertaining films. Although the movie dragged somewhat inthe middle, its graphic and realistic nature pulled it through in theend. "Amistad" is a movie that will stick with me for a longtime and I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about theterrors of slavery.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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