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Amistad [Blu-ray] [1997] [US Import]

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Frequently Bought Together

Amistad [Blu-ray] [1997] [US Import] + The Terminal [Blu-ray] [2004] [US Import] + Crocodile Dundee / Crocodile Dundee II [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Price For All Three: £37.11

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Product details

  • Actors: Anthony Hopkins, Matthew McConaughey, Djimon Hounsou, Nigel Hawthorne, Morgan Freeman
  • Format: Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: R (Restricted) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Dreamworks Video
  • DVD Release Date: 6 May 2014
  • Run Time: 155 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,665 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Steven Spielberg's most simplistic, sanitised history lesson, Amistad, explores the symbolic 1840s trials of 53 West Africans following their bloody rebellion aboard a slave ship. For most of Schindler's List (and, later, Saving Private Ryan) Spielberg restrains himself from the sweeping narrative and technical flourishes that make him one of our most entertaining and manipulative directors. Here, he doesn't even bother trying, succumbing to his driving need to entertain with beautiful images and contrived emotion. He cheapens his grandiose motives and simplifies slavery, treating it as cut- and-dry genre piece. Characters are easy Hollywood stereotypes--"villains" like the Spanish sailors or zealous abolitionists are drawn one-dimensionally and sneered upon. And Spielberg can't suppress his gifted eye, undercutting normally ugly sequences, such as the terrifying slave passage, which is shot as a gorgeous, well-lit composition. At its core, Amistad is a traditional courtroom drama, centred by a tired, clichéd narrative: a struggling, idealistic young lawyer (Matthew McConaughey) fighting the crooked political system and saving helpless victims. Worse yet, Spielberg actually takes the underlying premise of his childhood fantasy, E.T. and repackages it for slavery. Cinque (Djimon Hounsou), the leader of the West African rebellion, is presented much like the adorable alien: lost, lacking a common language, and trying to find his way home. McConaughey is a grown-up Elliot who tries communicating complicated ideas such as geography by drawing pictures in the sand or language by having Cinque mimic his facial expressions. Such stuff was effective for a sci-fi fantasy about the communication barriers between a boy and a lost alien; here, it seems like a naive view of real, complex history. --Dave McCoy,

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Mar 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Amistad was released in the UK cinema just a few months before Saving Private Ryan. The hype surrounding Ryan, Spielberg and Dreamworks at the time seemed to overshadow the fact that Dreamworks first Spielberg film, Amistad had been released. This could account for the relatively modest numbers of bums on seats. Which is a crying shame. Whilst Amistad may not have the shattering impact of Schindler's List or Saving Private Ryan, this is great Spielberg film-making, full of moments of magical cinema. Based on the true story of a slaves revolt on the ship Amistad, subsequent capture and trial in America, the script provides the all-start cast ample opportunity to flex their jaw-muscles. Particularly outstanding is the performance of Djimon Hounsou one of the slaves struggling for freedom. Overall this is one of the best films of the late 90s - if you didn't get to see it at the cinema, catch up with it now on video.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Feb 2003
Format: VHS Tape
Most reviewers either seemed to love or hate this film. I ended up somewhere in the middle, hence the three stars.
At its best, "Amistad" reminds us that the evil of slavery caused terrible suffering to real people and that its abolition was one of the greatest achievements of the nineteenth century. In a world where there are still pockets of slave commerce, it is a reminder of how serious this evil is. The re-creation of a Portugese slave ship and the horrors inflicted on its victims was very well done, and to me the most powerful sequence in the film was that where chained slaves are dragged over the side to drown due to the crew miscalculating the amount of supplies required for the crossing.
At its worst the film contained some sequences which appeared to be overly artificial. Anthony Hopkins is an excellent actor, but there is something unconvincing about his portrayal of John Quincey Adams - it just seemed too saccharine. As I am not familiar with the details of the actual court case I cannot say anything with authority, but the version in the film seemed rather formulaic - hopeless case gains unexpected triumph at hands of struggling young lawyer (seems a bit familiar), then there is a reversal of fortunes, but triumph in the end. The scene of the destruction of the slavers' base in Sierra Leone seemed rather tagged on the end, but did at least give a pleasant reminder that for once the British were on the side of the angels and morally ahead of those nasty colonials who did not stop trading human lives for money until forced to.
Bottom line? There are a lot of third rate movies out there and this is definitely not one of those. It is a film that is worth the time to watch, but I had hoped for better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Fortuna on 11 Dec 2014
Format: DVD
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Amistad is a surprisingly good movie that is a welcome addition into the filmography of Steven Spielberg. It has some courtroom cliches and some typical Spielberg drama fluff, but it overcomes those minor obstacles to be a powerful, sometimes-disturbing film about a group of people who yearn for their freedom. The editing is also choppy and sometimes it is hard to pick up what's going on, but this story moved me so much, I didn't care if the editing was sub-par.

Amistad, based on a true story, is about a group of African slaves who attempt to escape from their captors, but they are recaptured and sent to America for trial. Now these blacks will have to endure unfairness and racial hatred to find out their fates.

The acting is powerful. This is the movie where Djimon Hounsou becomes a star and this movie shows why. His performance as the so-called "alpha male" nearly moved me to tears. Anthony Hopkins, who played John Quincy Adams, delivers one of the best speeches you'll ever hear in the movies. Matthew McConaughey, in one of his early non-romantic roles does a wonderful job. I really love Morgan Freeman, but I'm disappointed he didn't do much in the film.

Overall, this is a powerhouse film that shows expert Spielberg direction and wonderful acting. The editing is questionable, but I'll let it slide for a film like this. I honestly didn't expect this to be good as it was so I'm quite happy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By rbmusicman TOP 100 REVIEWER on 26 July 2014
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The film by award winning director 'Steven Spielberg' is based on a true story.
The year 1839 though many activists campaign to rid the World of slavery in
many places the trade was alive and well at this time.
This story tells of a group of enslaved 'Africans' on their enforced journey take
over the ship 'LA AMISTAD' with the intention of sailing her back to their
However, despite their efforts, the 'LA AMISTAD'' mutineers are recaptured...they
will now face a trial in 'America'
The court will hear claims of ownership of the defendants, the trial is followed by
the whole nation, it becomes an issue of Human Rights for the enslaved 'Africans'
A team is brought together to defend the defendants 'Mathew .S. Baldwin' played
by 'Mathew McConaughey' and 'Theodore Joadson' played by 'Morgan Freeman'
Language difficulties are a real problem between Council and Defendants'
For the Lawyers what starts as just another job soon becomes a mission, though
the defence's presentations are proven it is not and end to the ordeal for the
defendants as a new judge is appointed which means it all has to be done again.
'Mathew' and 'Theodore' desperately try to learn the basics of their clients language,
fortunately they stumble across a former slave that can act as a interpreter.
Read more ›
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