However, the Royal Navy's fervent abolitionist Captain Fitzgerald of the West Africa Squadron backs up Cinqué's account. He speaks no English, but learns a little while in prison, and a translator is found who helps him express his dismay at a legal system that may free him but will not affirm the true nature of the crime against him. Cinque tells his story at trial: Cinque was kidnapped by slave traders outside his village, and held in the slave fortress of Lomboko, where thousands of captives were held under heavy guard. Instead, the court must decide whether the defendants were born of slaves (in which case they are guilty of murder) or were illegally brought from Africa (and therefore had a right to defend themselves against kidnapping). As a result, the movie doesn't have the emotional charge of Spielberg's earlier film — or of "The Color Purple," which moved me to tears. Djimon Hounsou's performance depends largely on his screen presence, which is formidable. And another sequence in which the mechanics of the slave trade are examined, as Africans capture members of enemy tribes and sell them to slave traders. The case finally gets to the Supreme Court, where John Quincy Adams (Sir Anthony Hopkins) makes an impassioned and eloquent plea for their release. Because of the release of the Africans, Van Buren loses his re-election campaign, and tension builds between the North and the South, which eventually culminate in the Civil War. Amistad received mainly positive reviews. Baldwin proves through documents found hidden aboard La Amistad that the African people were initially cargo belonging to a Portuguese slave ship, the Tecora. 5 on December 10, 1997. As the ship is crossing from Cuba to the U.S., Cinque (Djimon Hounsou), who was a tribal leader in Africa, leads a mutiny and takes over the ship. During the scene depicting the destruction of the, This page was last edited on 25 October 2020, at 19:30. The story of Cinque certainly deserves more attention in textbooks, but it is not an ideal story to make into a film; Nat Turner would have been a better choice for Spielberg. I thought that was a little over-wrought. Synopsis It is carrying a cargo of Africans who have been sold into slavery in Cuba, taken on board, and chained in the cargo hold of the ship. It is carrying a cargo of Africans who have been sold into slavery in Cuba, taken on board, and chained in the cargo hold of the ship. It was the year when a terrible rebellion took place on board the Spanish ship La Amistad, which transported slaves. David Franzoni's screenplay was based on the 1987 book Mutiny on the Amistad: The Saga of a Slave Revolt and Its Impact on American Abolition, Law, and Diplomacy, by the historian Howard Jones. Slavery could, I suppose, be seen largely as a matter of laws and property--at least to those benefitting from it. His new film centers on the legal status of Africans who rise up against their captors on the high seas and are brought to trial in a New England court. Instead, when they reach the United States, they are imprisoned as runaway slaves. “Give us free!” Cinque cries in a powerful moment in the courtroom, indicating how irrelevant a “not guilty” verdict would be to the real facts of his case. Consequently, seeking to make the case more personal, on the advice of former American president (and lawyer) John Quincy Adams, Baldwin and Joadson find James Covey, a former slave who speaks both Mende and English. Ever since Spielberg began “Amistad,” the story has been hyped and hailed as a great untold chapter in American history, an event to put beside Nat Turner's uprising. The two men who bought them are spared, and promise to guide the ship back to Africa. A lawyer named Roger Sherman Baldwin, hired by the abolitionist Lewis Tappan and his black associate Theodore Joadson, decides to defend the Africans. As the tension rises, Cinqué stands up from his seat and repeatedly says, "Give us, us free!". In an unfamiliar country and not speaking a single word of English, the Africans find themselves in a legal battle. That John Quincy Adams wins his big case is a great achievement for him and a great relief for Cinque and his fellow captives, but in the sad annals of American slavery, it is a rather hollow triumph. Blog. (Since it was the policy of slavery to destroy African families, these scenes are especially poignant.) The film opens on the ship Amistad, where Cinque (Djimon Hounsou) is able to free himself from shackles and release his fellow prisoners. Amistad’s problems go far deeper than such anachronisms as President Martin Van Buren campaigning for re-election on a whistle-stop train tour (in 1840, candidates did not campaign), or people constantly talking about the impending Civil War, which lay twenty years in the future. Baldwin shows from the Tecora’s inventory that the number of African people taken as slaves was reduced by fifty.

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