Watching this now twenty year old film, two things are evident, one: Djimon Hounsou has been seriously undervalued by Hollywood in the last two decades, and two: When he wants to be, Steven Spielberg can be seriously unforgiving and uncompromising when telling a story with difficult subject matter. Telling the story of the violent slave uprising on Spanish slave ship La Amistad and the subsequent trial of the self freed salves, from the moment it begins, the viewer is flung into dark, searing horror, as Hounsou painfully and bloodily digs a nail out of the deck of the ship in skin crawling, lingering close up that is difficult to watch on its own, after he uses said nail to unchain himself we then witness the graphic massacre of the spanish slavers, which, even before you find out what befell these poor people at the hands of their captors, carries a nasty sense of satisfaction. What follows is an times admittedly heavy handed and overwrought but powerful and beautifully directed work of cinematic art. Steven Spielberg could be said to overdo some elements and bring a kind of artificial look and feel to this very real and important story, but even on a lesser day Spielberg accentuates the powerful, potent elements of his storytelling to a visceral degree, no filmmaker is a better or more vivid cinematic storyteller, from shot composition, to lighting, blocking, powerful acting from the amazing cast (especially the electric Hounsou, who should have become one of the biggest leading men in the industry off the back of this film) and visual choices that connect the tale being told in a rich and affecting way. A flawed but great film with a very important and tough piece of history that needed to be told and needs to be remembered.