Amistad, a Steven Spielberg film starring Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou, and Matthew McConaughey, was released in 1997. I did not know about the film until a few days ago. At first I could not believe that because I have liked every Steven Spielberg movie ever made, and Morgan Freeman is one of my all-time favorite actors. However, 1997 was in the midst of what I call my lost decade, ten years in which I lost track of time, lost track of music, lost track of movies, pretty much lost track of life. So here I am, trying to catch up on everything.
Amistad is a long movie at two hours and thirty-four minutes. The subject matter, the slave trade in 1839, is not a matter to take lightly. In great Spielberg tradition, the visual effects were, well, too visual. I had to take a 24-hour break about halfway through the movie.
Movies like this one which are based on true events and show the most evil side of humanity used to leave me wondering how people could be so evil to other people, but now, with Twitler in the White House, it seems evil is not necessarily back (was it ever gone?) but certainly it is out in the open, and welcome.
Morgan Freeman got top billing but I think he wasn’t the lead in this movie. I’d have to give that position to either Djimon Honsou or Matthew McConaughey. Honsou was the leader of the captive slaves and McConaughey was the defense attorney working to get the slaves freed, a task which he ultimately was successful. A lower court ruled in favor of freeing the slaves and returning them to their home in Africa, but President Martin Van Buren appealed the lower court’s ruling to the Supreme Court. McConaughey sought help from a former president, John Quincy Adams, then a member of the United States House of Representatives, to argue the case in front of the Supreme Court. Anthony Hopkins played John Quincy Adams.
The acting was superb, which I figured it would be since Spielberg requires the best from the best. The ending was excellent—bravo to the British!
Overall I can highly recommend Amistad with the forewarning that there is a lot of full frontal nudity, both male and female, and a lot of cruelty that will make you cringe. Be prepared to take at least one good break during the movie.