Monday, December 22, 2008


Amistad; Drama, USA, 1997; D: Steven Spielberg, S: Matthew McConaughey, Djimon Hounsou, Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Nigel Hawthorne, Pete Postlethwaite, Stellan SkarsgÄrd, Anna Paquin

1839. African slaves rebel on the ship "La Amistad" and except for two Spanish men kill all the crew around Cuba. Their leader is Cinque, once an influential person in Africa, who sails the ship towards the east, arriving in America, where they are charged of murder. At the trial, they are defended by Joadson, who is also Black, and Roger Baldwin, a young lawyer, but the problem is that they don't speak English. Yet they find a man on the street who can speak their language which speeds up the process. It is discovered that the Spanish men got the slaves illegally and threw some of them into the sea, so the slaves win the trial. But then the rich land owners place a veto so the trial is repeated. Even Martin van Buren shows up so the slaves win the trial again and return to Africa.

Pretentiously-pathetic trial drama turned Spielberg into a plain routiner (even some of his weak popcorn movies are better and more alive than this) because it's just one plain history lesson. Gruelling "Amistad" is a demanding and fancy packed hassle - in his quest to show individuals with civil courage, he made a lot less subtle achievement than some of his similar movies, and it's not clear who needs these kind of 3 hours trial dramas if they are not interesting at all (and on top of that, the trial is repeated twice)? It seems it's just art for art's sake. The biggest mistakes are blatant horror sequences at the ship where the owners torture slaves by throwing them into the sea or whipping them - such explicit means fails because they try to cheaply be educational. Still, Morgan Freeman is even good in such roles where his character just keeps quiet while the camera just flies around him. Still, the movie was nominated for 4 Oscars (including best supporting actor Anthony Hopkins) and 4 Golden Globes (best motion picture - drama, director, actor Djimon Hounso, supporting actor Hopkins).


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