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maybe spielberg should try his hand at documentry film making?
on 27 July 2011
i find, as the creator of the summer blockbuster, spielberg is great at making blockbusters. but spielberg doesn't just make blockbusters he does another type of film a film like "the colour purple" a film like "munich" and a film like "amistad". unlike the blockbuster films, this type of film isn't guaranteed to be a enjoyable film for me, i think these non blockbusters are a bit hit and miss.
just as well then that spielberg generally releases a blockbuster the same year as a non blockbuster film e.g.. "jurrasic park" and "schindlers list", "war of the worlds" and "munich". "amistad" was the non blockbuster to "the lost world's" commercial success. not to say that "amistad" is any less of a film than "the lost world" but it would have always been less successful than a dinosaur adventure thriller with CGI around every corner. i think that is part of spielbergs success, release a film highlighting some very real very difficult issues to please the critics, then release a blockbuster to get bums on seats and make sure the money is made.
well that was a major digressional tangent wasn't it? shall i get on with actually reviewing this film? yes i think i should..
the opening scene was probably the highlight of the film for me it just looked amazing and i really got a feel for the hunger and passion for freedom that the slaves had in the revolt. the film, however, quickly devolves into a big-budget classroom documentary, albeit a reasonably gripping one. beautifully filmed, and well-acted (particularly by djimon hounsou), Spielberg's film loses momentum each time he halts for scenes of courtroom "drama".
the harrowing flashbacks to life aboard the Amistad provoked a feeling of disgust in me, which i am sure was the intention. but i did get a feeling of pride to find that the british were pretty much the freedom fighters of the time, and the scene where the british destroy the slave fortress made me smile, as in film, english people are all to often portrayed to be the bad guys but in real life we all know we're the good guys.
In its best moments, Amistad reveals Spielberg as a man committed to showing us how it really was, in its worst moments, the film reveals a director who is maybe a bit too devoted to informing the audience of the really inconsequential details of the time, making the whole pace of the film go a bit to slow for my tastes.
i would give "amistad" 3 out of 5 stars.