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Freedom is not given. It is our right at birth. But there are some moments when it must be taken. 

Year: 1997 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Amistad

In 1839, fifty-three Africans imprisoned in the cargo hold of the Spanish slave ship La Amistad en route to Cuba, break free and, led by their leader Cinqué (played by ex-model Djimon Hounsou), overpower their captors, killing all but two in the hope that the surviving Spanish sailors will navigate them back to Africa and freedom. But they are tricked into heading for America where they are intercepted by a US naval ship and subsequently charged with piracy and murder.

Their only hope lies with free black abolitionist Theodore Joadson (Freeman) and the inexperienced lawyer Roger Baldwin (McConaughey), a real estate attorney interested solely in the misapplied property aspects of the case, in whom they have placed their trust.

And so the courtroom drama begins, with President Van Buren (Nigel Hawthorne) sparring with ex-President John Quincy Adams (Hopkins) while the young Queen of Spain has a tantrum and demands her "property" be returned.

Like his previous drama Schindler's List, Spielberg refuses to take historical fact and ram it down his audiences' throats, relying instead on a carefully-plotted storyline and well-crafted visuals. Amistad is film-making of the highest order

Note: Surprisingly (or should that be unsurprisingly) Spielberg avoids the truth of what happened to Cinqué on his release, one historical fact that continues to furrow the brows of blacks and white liberals to this day. After gaining his freedom, Cinqué returned home to Africa where he began working... (D'oh!) As a slave trader.

Simon C. Williams

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Screenings of this film:

1997/1998 Summer Term (35mm)
1997/1998 Summer Term (35mm)
1998/1999 Autumn Term (35mm)
1998/1999 Autumn Term (35mm)
1998/1999 Autumn Term (35mm)
1998/1999 Autumn Term (35mm)
1998/1999 Spring Term (35mm)
2006/2007 Summer Term (35mm)