Amistad Movie Analysis

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The film Amistad is based on a true event that occurred in 1839. It is about a mutiny by recently captured slaves, who take over a ship known as La Amistad, and the legal battle that followed regarding their freedom. The movie begins by showing many Africans chained together on the lower deck of La Amistad. They manage to break free and go to the upper deck and attack the sailors, leading a mutiny and taking over the ship. They leave two men alive to guide them back to Africa, but they point them towards the US. When they arrive in the states, the Africans are thought to be runaway slaves, and are imprisoned. The case of their freedom is taken to court, to decide whether the Africans were originally slaves or free men. One lawyer decides to fight for them, and pleads his case that the Africans were never slaves and were indeed free men. The case eventually makes it to the Supreme Court and a translator is eventually found to communicate with the leader of the Africans, and he tells his story. He was one of many illegally captured in Africa, and sold into slavery. When the time comes for the trial, John Quincy Adams pleas for their freedom. After a grueling trial, the slaves are said to be free men, and are to be sent back to their homeland, Africa.
The film gives an overall accurate picture of these events, though it adds and takes away some pieces of it. The Africans had been captured in Africa, then smuggled into Cuba. At the time the trading of slaves was illegal due to a treaty signed in 1817. The treaty forbid the trading of slaves between Britain and Spain. The mutiny itself occurred in July, 1839 just north of Cuba. La Amistad, the ship they were being carried on, was soon taken captive by them. Those they did not kill were...

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...f struggles at that time. Though there are some people who may find the film to be slow at some points, it is an interesting story and captures the interest of the audience rather easily. Therefore, the movie Amistad should be used by teachers as a classroom tool.

Works Cited

Dugdale-Pointon, T (23 October 2008), The Amistad Mutiny of 1839 ,

Howard Jones, Mutiny on the Amistad: The Saga of a Slave Revolt and Its Impact on American Abolition, Law, and Diplomacy, rev. ed. (1998); Iyunolu Folayan Osagie, The Amistad Revolt: Memory, Slavery, and the Politics of Identity in the United States and Sierra Leone (2000).

Hadden, S. (1998, January 6). Review of "Amistad" (film by Stephen Speilberg) by Sally Hadden Florida State University. Retrieved April 29, 2014, from
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