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Amistad Movie Analysis

1206 words - 5 pages

The film Amistad is based on a true event that occurred in 1839. It is about a mutiny by recently captured slaves, who take over a ship known as La Amistad, and the legal battle that followed regarding their freedom. The movie begins by showing many Africans chained together on the lower deck of La Amistad. They manage to break free and go to the upper deck and attack the sailors, leading a mutiny and taking over the ship. They leave two men alive to guide them back to Africa, but they point them towards the US. When they arrive in the states, the Africans are thought to be runaway slaves, and are imprisoned. The case of their freedom is taken to court, to decide whether the Africans were originally slaves or free men. One lawyer decides to fight for them, and pleads his case that the Africans were never slaves and were indeed free men. The case eventually makes it to the Supreme Court and a translator is eventually found to communicate with the leader of the Africans, and he tells his story. He was one of many illegally captured in Africa, and sold into slavery. When the time comes for the trial, John Quincy Adams pleas for their freedom. After a grueling trial, the slaves are said to be free men, and are to be sent back to their homeland, Africa.
The film gives an overall accurate picture of these events, though it adds and takes away some pieces of it. The Africans had been captured in Africa, then smuggled into Cuba. At the time the trading of slaves was illegal due to a treaty signed in 1817. The treaty forbid the trading of slaves between Britain and Spain. The mutiny itself occurred in July, 1839 just north of Cuba. La Amistad, the ship they were being carried on, was soon taken captive by them. Those they did not kill were forced to guide them back to Africa, but unbeknownst to the former captives, the sailors were leading them to the United States. In August they anchored the ship, in search of food and other necessities. However, before they could set sail again, they were discovered by another crew, and soon captured and taken to Connecticut to await a trial. One argument was made by the owners of the ship, stating the captives had already been slaves when they purchased them in Cuba. Meanwhile Cuba wanted the ship and its captives to be returned to them. There were also those who campaigned for the Africans, stating they had been wrongfully enslaved and should be freed, a decision was not made until 1840, when the judge said the Africans had been kidnaped and should be set free and sent home. However, the case was soon upheld and sent to the Supreme Court. Many thought that the majority of the court was against the freedom of the captives, considering that they were slave owners. Though on the other hand, the captives had a former United States President, John Quincy Adams, defend them. Once again, the ruling was that the Africans were to be set free and sent home. They were heading back to their country with protection in 1841.
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