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I'm not a film critic, but I'll tell you what I think about the movies I watch. I enjoy understanding the history behind the movies we watch, as well as the collaborative effort necessary to produce movies.

Amistad


Amistad 6

Amistad (1997)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, Djimon Hounsou

Captured African slaves have taken over the slave ship carrying them to America. Their victory is short-lived since they are soon taken by American sailors and held as disputed property. Now a young lawyer (McConaughey), a free black man (Freeman), and a former President (Hopkins) work to free these slaves. Their case isn’t just about ownership of property, it’s about the future of the institution of slavery in 1839.

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I have doubts that anyone is more qualified to make films about real moments in history than Steven Spielberg. He’s successfully portrayed the Holocaust (Schindler’s List), Abraham Lincoln (Lincoln), and D-Day (Saving Private Ryan). This film can be added to that list of successes. In addition to four Oscar nominations this movie delivers a powerful message.

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The acting throughout the film is good. Hopkins (Thor), Hounsou (Gladiator), and Freeman (Million Dollar Baby) all do some great work. Hounsou is especially good, bringing a ton of emotion to an important character in the film. Casting Matthew McConaughey as the young ambitious attorney was an interesting choice. He does a good job with the role, but seems to come out of character at times. It’s not enough to hurt the overall movie, but it makes his part a bit weaker than I hoped for. The remainder of the cast all do nice work with some very gritty scenes throughout the film.

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Spielberg doesn’t hold back when it comes to uncovering the brutality of history. This time he portrays the violence, abuse, and horror of slave trading. The scenes of violence towards the slaves are intense and emotional. The camera work and other technical aspects of the film seem to capture the essence of the moments perfectly. Adding in an incredible score really helped to capture the emotions.

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This isn’t a film for everyone. If you’re uncomfortable with scenes of violence or abuse, you might want to skip this one. It doesn’t avoid looking the subject right in the eye. If you’re a fan of Spielberg, this is one you need to see. For anyone who loves history in films, I think this is one you’ll enjoy. I give this one 4.8 out of 5 stars.

Rating: R

Running Time: 155 minutes

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  1. Thor: The Dark World | Did You See That One? - November 8, 2013

    […] the Woods), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Tom Hiddleston (Midnight in Paris), and Anthony Hopkins (Amistad). The film also features Rene Russo (The Thomas Crown Affair), Kat Dennings (Nick and Norah’s […]

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  2. Munich | Did You See That One? - June 15, 2014

    […] The visual and technical elements of this film are also wonderfully done. The fact that this film wasn’t nominated for Best Cinematography is a bit confusing to me. I would also argue that this film should’ve won for Best Music. The score is moving and powerful, complementing the stunning visuals throughout the movie. Overall, there is not much to criticize with the talents of Spielberg, John Williams (Schindler’s List), and Janusz Kaminski (Amistad). […]

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  3. Million Dollar Baby | Did You See That One? - March 3, 2015

    […] directed and starred in this film alongside Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry) and Morgan Freeman (Amistad). Eastwood would go on to win an Academy Award for Best Director. Jay Baruchel (How to Train Your […]

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