Behind the Scenes featurette
Four-Page Booklet with Production Notes
English or German Soundtrack
Subtitles: English (Deaf and Hard of Hearing), German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish
Anamorphic Widescreen 16:9
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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