Time: 142 mins.
Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score and Best Supporting Actor (Hopkins).
Knowing what's coming out in the next few weeks the Oscar rush I'm sure that this latest film from Mr. Spielberg is going to be on the top of everyone's list. AMISTAD is a top-of-the-line drama that speaks to the heart. It's the story of a group of Africans, who were forced into slavery, that revolted against their captors, killing them on the high seas. Their ship, the Amistad, was captured off the American coast and it's "cargo" was imprisoned in a Connecticut jail until the matter could be sorted out. The matter being whether these 44 human beings were someone's property or men allowed to go free.
What follows are three courtroom trials, establishing who these individuals are, where they came from and who they belong to, if anyone. All the major players of the day are involved in the outcome from Queen Isabella of Spain to the current president of the United States, Martin Van Buren. The reason it's important: the fate of these 44 individuals could be the straw that breaks the camel's back in the bitter debate over slavery between the North and South. There is more at stake than the freedom of these people.
The story that unfolds is devastating to watch. Spielberg holds nothing back showing the horror of the treatment these men and women receive at the hands of their captors. It's sickening and at times as difficult to watch as parts of SCHINDLER'S LIST. After seeing the violence perpetrated against these people, who were ripped from their homes and families, starved, beaten and murdered, there is no doubt of the righteousness of their actions. The film gets weighted down a bit with all the legal mumbo-jumbo, losing some of its' passion and urgency amidst all the banter.