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Heartfelt without resorting to preachiness, Amistad tells an important story with engaging sensitivity and absorbing skill. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

In 1839, the slave ship Amistad set sail from Cuba to America. During the long trip, Cinque (Djimon Hounsou) leads the slaves in an unprecedented uprising. They are then held prisoner in Connecticut, and their release becomes the subject of heated debate. Freed slave Theodore Joadson (Morgan Freeman) wants Cinque and the others exonerated and recruits property lawyer Roger Baldwin (Matthew McConaughey) to help his case. Eventually, John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins) also becomes an ally.

Cast & Crew

Anthony Hopkins
John Quincy Adams
Nigel Hawthorne
Martin Van Buren
David Paymer
Secretary Forsyth
Anna Paquin
Queen Isabella
Tomas Milian
Calderon
Austin Pendleton
Professor Gibbs
Bob Cooper
Co-Executive Producer
Bonnie Curtis
Associate Producer
Paul Deason
Associate Producer
Laurie MacDonald
Executive Producer
Walter F. Parkes
Executive Producer
Tim Shriver
Co-Producer
Debbie Allen
Original Song
John Williams
Original Music
Janusz Kaminski
Cinematographer
Michael Kahn
Film Editor
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News & Interviews for Amistad

Critic Reviews for Amistad

All Critics (65) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (50) | Rotten (15)

  • The narrative perils are daunting in this little-known true tale of a bloody slave-ship rebellion in 1839 and its jumbled aftermath in the U.S. judicial system.

    January 9, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • 'Amistad' may not be the first, or fifth, or tenth film people talk about when Spielberg's name comes up. But it has more moments that will put your hair on end than other filmmakers' best works, and that says something.

    December 15, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Quote not available.

    September 7, 2011 | Rating: C | Full Review…
  • Powerful story for mid-teens and up.

    December 21, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • In short, a wordy courtroom drama which seldom progresses beyond ciphers, stereotypes and salutary slogans.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
  • As with Schindler’s List, Spielberg allows his subjects to be remote and somewhat unknowable human beings, creating an air of documentary-like authenticity.

    July 19, 2003 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
  • The narrative perils are daunting in this little-known true tale of a bloody slave-ship rebellion in 1839 and its jumbled aftermath in the U.S. judicial system.

    January 9, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • 'Amistad' may not be the first, or fifth, or tenth film people talk about when Spielberg's name comes up. But it has more moments that will put your hair on end than other filmmakers' best works, and that says something.

    December 15, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Quote not available.

    September 7, 2011 | Rating: C | Full Review…
  • Powerful story for mid-teens and up.

    December 21, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Amistad is certainly a film of considerable power.

    August 17, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Amistad is worth seeing for the stormy scenes on board the slave boat, and for Djimon Hounsou's magnetic performance. Otherwise, it can't decide on its direction, and this unique historical event is stifled into a less than thrilling courtroom drama.

    June 1, 2018 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Amistad

  • Jul 07, 2014
    Although technically competent and with wonderful performances by Hopkins and Hounsou (who should have been nominated for an Oscar too), this is a bloated and misstructured film that has an alarming tendency to give in to melodrama and is not as strong as it could be.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 07, 2014
    I do appreciate the unflinching way the film looks at the slave trade and Djimon Hounsou's performance is startlingly intense, but this could have been so much more . . . instead it's "History Lite".
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 26, 2012
    Steven Spielberg crafts a good historical drama. However it's not without its flaws. The problem with Amistad is that it takes a terrific aspect of history, and over bloats it into a romanticized version of the facts. The film is good, but could have been much better. The elements of the film at times just don't work, and Spielberg, who usually makes great films, makes the film's subject matter almost silly at times instead of compelling. I liked the film, but I liked the film, but I felt that since this is a historical film, the usual Spielberg flair could have been slightly toned down. The best aspect of this film is the performance delivered by Anthony Hopkins as President John Quincy Adams. His performance makes this film worth seeing. The film does have that going for it, and it is entertaining, but I felt it fell short of its potential, especially with its subject matter, which is history. Steven Spielberg direction is good, but at times unfocused and the flaws I pointed out earlier in this review become apparent to the viewer. My biggest problem with this film is that it is a historical film mixed with a feel good flavor, thus the film falls short of what it could be. I expected so much more with this film, but in the end, it touches the tip of the iceberg of this real historical account, and becomes more of a court room drama, which many viewers will probably find not that great. I liked the film, but the film's potential is wasted and in turn Amistad is simply a good little film without being anything great or excellent.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Jun 12, 2012
    Amistad is a wonderful and brilliant film by Steven Spielberg, but it still has some major historical inaccuracies. I am not usually one to put down a film because of the inaccuracies, but since its a genius like Spielberg I expect nothing but the best, and there are just some scenes in the film that I could tell they had put in just for Hollywood. The script however is brilliant and is a mix of a courtroom drama and a slave film. Even with some inaccuracies, I found this to be a very powerful and smart film that really shows the horrors and truths behind slave trading. Spielberg is the perfect man for a film like this, his greatest film Shindlers List proved that he is able to handle great material like this. He really makes the film feel epic and has really given me a new view on slavery. The cast is also phenomenal and really was the films high point. Mathew McConaughey really impressed me because I didn't expect to like him in a role like this but he pulls it off. Morgan Freeman is great as usual and really has a great and signifigant role. Anthony Hopkins was brilliant and our sixth president, and I mean I barely could tell it was him after a while, and and I think his final speech at the end is one of his finest moments as an actor. Dijmon Hounsou is the films core, I mean I thought his performance really gave it more sympathy and I love him as an actor. Spielberg has done another great film that is (along with Empire of the Sun) one of his best forgotten films. But I think as long as people like me still love the films, than they live on forever.
    Bradley W Super Reviewer

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