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Review by Curtis Strickland (12/97)

Release: 1997, DreamWorks
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey, Pete Postlethwaite, Anna Paquin
Director: Steve Spielberg
MPAA Rating: [R] language, violence
Genre: Drama


Set in 1839, this movie tells the tale of a slave revolt aboard the Amistad on its way to the northeastern coast of America. Much of the story revolves around the subsequent trial of the slave who led the revolt.


Amistad is perhaps the first good thing to come out of DreamWorks. After The Peacemaker and Mouse Hunt, I was about to write the production company off, and after the atrocious Lost World earlier this year, I was about to write off Spielberg in particular. But Amistad seems to redeem these other yawners, and presents some interesting material. Excellent performances all around, especially from Morgan Freeman as a prominent abolitionist, Djimon Hounsou as the slave who leads the revolt aboard ship, and Anthony Hopkins as John Quincy Adams in court.


As an historical dramatization with an underlying moral lesson, Amistad isn't really full of surprises or innovations. It provokes thought, but not very deep thought. After all, the issue of slavery is pretty much one sided: it's a bad thing, period. Slavery isn't an issue that can be justified, and therefore isn't a topic that the audience can see both sides of.

Rating: 8 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)

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