Amistad is an American historical film directed by Steven Spielberg , released in 1997 . The film is banned under 14 years in the United States.

The film is inspired by authentic facts, a mutiny of a group of African slaves transported aboard La Amistad in 1839 and which has become a symbol of the movement for the abolition of slavery .


In 1839 , La Amistad , a Spanish schooner carrying African slaves from Sierra Leone , was caught in a violent storm off Cuba . About fifty prisoners manage to free themselves from their chains and turn against their executioners, who go through the arms. Cinque (Segbe), their leader, forces Montez (one of the Spaniards he spares) to bring them back to Africa. Cinque then ordered the Spaniards to move towards the rising sun, that is, towards the east. But during the night, Montez, who has more experience in navigation, helps the stars to set sail towards the west, hoping to stay in Cuban waters. However, a very strong wind caused the ship to drift north-east towards America. When the ship is boarded, the slaves are taken to the United States where, tried for murder (they killed the captain of the ship and the cook), they wait for their fate in prison.

While the shipowners are filing a lawsuit to recover their “cargo”, a city lawyer is seeking refugee status for these shipwrecked, and denies the claim that these people are merchandise. The president himself ( Martin Van Buren ) was questioned on this subject.

The fierce battle around their lawsuit draws the attention of the entire nation and challenges the foundations of the American justice system. But for imprisoned men and women, it is simply a struggle for the respect of a fundamental and inalienable right: freedom.

Technical sheet

Replica of The Amistad built in 2000, sailing in the historic port of Mystic in Connecticut .
  • Title: Amistad
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Scenario: David Franzoni
  • Music: Debbie Allen and John Williams
  • Photography: Janusz Kamiński
  • Editing: Michael Kahn
  • Sets: Rick Carter
  • Costumes: Ruth E. Carter
  • Production: Debbie Allen , Steven Spielberg , Colin Wilson , Tim Shriver , Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes
  • Production Companies: DreamWorks SKG and HBO Films
  • Distribution: DreamWorks Distribution (United States), United International Pictures (France)
  • Budget: 40 million dollars 1
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Original languages: English , Mende and Spanish
  • Format: Colors – 1.85: 1 – DTS / Dolby Digital / SDDS – 35 mm
  • Genre: historical , drama
  • Duration: 148 minutes
  • Release dates 2 :
 United States : ( first in Washington, DC )
 United States :
 Belgium , France , Switzerland :  


  • Morgan Freeman VF : Benoît Allemane ) : Theodore Joadson
  • Nigel Hawthorne : Martin Van Buren
  • Anthony Hopkins VF : Jean-Pierre Moulin ) : John Quincy Adams
  • Djimon Hounsou : Cinqué
  • Matthew McConaughey VF : Bruno Choël ) : Roger S.Baldwin
  • Pete Postlethwaite VF : Georges Berthomieu ) : Holabird
  • Stellan Skarsgård VF : Frédéric Cerdal ) : Lewis Tappan
  • Xander Berkeley VF : Bruno Carna ) : Hammond
  • Anna Paquin : Queen Isabel II of Spain
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor VF : Lucien Jean-Baptiste ) : James Covey
  • Jeremy Northam VF : Eric Legrand ) : Coglin J.
  • David Paymer VF : Hervé Bellon ) : Secretary Forsyth
  • Razaaq Adoti  (en) : Yamba
  • Abu Bakaar Fofanah : Fala
  • Tomas Milian : Calderon
  • Derrick N. Ashong : Buakei
  • Geno Silva  (en) : Ruiz
  • John Ortiz : Pedro Montes
  • Peter Firth (VF: Hervé Jolly): Captain Fitzgerald
  • Allan Rich VF : William Sabatier ) : Juttson JA
  • Paul Guilfoyle : Attorney
  • Arliss Howard : Senator John Calhoun


Genesis and development

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This is Spielberg’s first film to be produced by DreamWorks , a company one of whose co-founders is Spielberg himself.

Distribution of roles

Denzel Washington and Cuba Gooding Jr. were approached for the role of Cinqué while Sean Connery was for that of John Quincy Adams 3 .

Harry Andrew Blackmun , who plays the role of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story , was here from 1970 to 1994.


The shooting lasted only 31 days 3 . It took place in Puerto Rico , Rhode Island ( Newport , Pawtucket , Providence ), Connecticut (Mystic, Groton Long Point, Sonalyst Studios in Waterford ), California ( Universal City , San Pedro, Oak Glen), in the Massachusetts ( Boston ) 4 .

The first sixteen minutes of the film were shot entirely in the Mende language (one of the majority languages in Sierra Leone), a language that Djimon Hounsou had to learn, because the Mende is not spoken in his country of origin: Benin . In addition, Djimon Hounsou only speaks five words of English in the film.

The boat used in the film is the Pride of Baltimore , a clipper of Baltimore . The replica of The Amistad , based in New Haven , did not serve the film since it was built in 2000 .


Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack of John Williams
Checked in 1997
duration 55:51
Kind movie soundtrack
Label DreamWorks Records

AllMusic 5


The music of the film is composed by John Williams .

List of titles
o title duration
1. Dry Your Tears, Afrika (singing by Pamela Dillard) 4:18
2. Sierra Leone , 1839 and the Capture of Cinque (Pamela Dillard) 3:39
3. Crossing the Atlantic (voice of Pamela Dillard) 3:21
4. Cinque’s Theme 4:12
5. Cinque’s Memories of Home 2:35
6. Middle Passage 5:18
7. The Long Road to Justice 3:16
8. July 4, 1839 4:01
9. Mr. Adams Takes the Case 7:15
10. The Amistad Remembered 5:08
11. The Liberation of Lomboko 4:09
12. Adams’ Summation 2:55
13. Going Home (vocals performed by Pamela Dillard) 2:02
14. Dry Your Tears, Afrika (Reprise) 3:37


Unless otherwise stated, this list comes from information from the Internet Movie Database 6


  • Critics Choice Awards 1998:
Best Supporting Actor: Anthony Hopkins
  • 1998 European Cinema Award :
European Award of Honor – European Contribution to World Cinema: Stellan Skarsgård
  • NAACP Image Awards 1998:
Best Actor: Djimon Hounsou
Best Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman
  • PGA Awards 1998:
Vision award for the best film
  • Satellite Awards 1998 :
Best Photography : Janusz Kamiński


  • 1998 Oscars :
Best Supporting Actor : Anthony Hopkins
Best Photography : Janusz Kamiński
Best Music : John Williams
Best costumes : Ruth E. Carter
  • Critics Choice Awards 1998:
Best film
  • David di Donatello Award 1998
Best foreign film
  • Golden Globes 1998
Best Dramatic Film
Best Director : Steven Spielberg
Best Actor in a Dramatic Role : Djimon Hounsou
Best Supporting Actor : Anthony Hopkins
  • Screen Actors Guild Awards 1998:
Best Supporting Actor: Anthony Hopkins
  • NAACP Image Awards 1998:
Best film
  • Online Film Critics Society Awards 1998
Best Supporting Actor: Anthony Hopkins
  • Satellite Awards 1998 :
Best Dramatic Film
Best Director : Steven Spielberg
Best adapted screenplay : David Franzoni
Best Actor in a Drama : Djimon Hounsou
Best Artistic Direction : Rick Carter
Best costumes : Ruth E. Carter
Best Editing : Michael Kahn
Best Music : John Williams
  • Grammy Award 1999
Best instrumental composition written for a movie or television: John Williams

Around the film

A parody of the film was made in the film Scary Movie under the title of Amistad 2 .

External links

  • (en) Amistad [ archive ] on the Internet Movie Database
  • Amistad [ archive ] on Allociné

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Business  [ archive ] – Internet Movie Database
  2. ↑ Release dates  [ archive ] – Internet Movie Database
  3. ↑ a and b (in) Trivia [ archive ] on the Internet Movie Database
  4. ↑ (in) Filming locations [ archive ] on the Internet Movie Database
  5. ↑ (in) John Williams – Amistad (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) ”  [ archive ] , on AllMusic (accessed 24 June 2016 )
  6. ↑ (in) Awards for Amistad ”  [ archive ] , on the Internet Movie Database

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