Amistad Directed by Steven Spielberg Amistad, Steven Spielberg’s drama about an 1839 slave ship uprising and its tough legal aftermath, begins with a dark, tight shot of a man who is struggling. This man is named Cinque and he is struggling for his freedom. He finally frees himself and the other slaves on the lower level of a Spanish boat. They then find all the weapons they can and attack the Spanish men onboard and kill all but two. They then try to steer home to Africa but end up in Massachusetts. When they land in America, they are promptly jailed for the murder of La Amistads crew. From there, the movie concentrates on the legal battle for their freedom. As the lawyer, Matthew McConaughey has the tough task of proving the slaves were born in Africa in order to free them. He is a smart young lawyer that enters the situation early on and points out that this is not a criminal case but a simple property case: If he can prove the 53 Africans on the Amistad were born in Africa, they will be free men and women, bound by U.S. law to be returned to their homeland. By 1839, U.S. slave owners could buy and sell only those who were born slaves. The lawyer then needs to correctly prove that the blacks on the Amistad were captured and sold into slavery. But how to prove that, with no common language? And how to get the wronged Africans leader to testify to the horrible truth of the experiences in the court? Through an odd concept and plan, he is able to find a translator that speaks not only English but also Mende. The elements of U.S. legal and political history in play here are interesting, to be sure, but the story of the heroic Amistad rebels is infinitely more interesting. After two wins in the lower courts the President of the United States at the time calls for the case to go in front of the Supreme Court, and then it is John Quincy Adams, the former president who fina…

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