Amistad


2h 32m 1997

Brief Synopsis

Africans on a slave ship headed to the U.S. mutiny against their captors.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Historical
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
1997
Distribution Company
AMBLIN PARTNERS/UNITED INTERNATIONAL PICTURES (UIP)
Location
San Juan, Puerto Rico; Sonalyst Studios, Waterford, Connecticut, USA; Newport, Rhode Island, USA; Mystic, Massachusetts, USA; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Universal City Studios, California, USA; Providence, Rhode Island, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 32m

Synopsis

Based on the true story of the failed mutiny on board the slave ship Amistad in 1839, and the courtroom battle that followed. In the trial that would challenge the very foundation of the American legal system, abolitionist Theodore Joadson, trial lawyer Roger Baldwin and ex-president John Quincy Adams argue for the freedom and civil rights of the captive African slaves.

Cast

Anthony Hopkins

Morgan Freeman

Matthew Mcconaughey

Anna Paquin

Djimon Hounsou

Nigel Hawthorne

Saye Lah

Desere Mondon

Tesfay Yohannes

Jeremy Northam

Paul Guilfoyle

Darren E Burrows

Tim Morrison

Performer

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Peter Mansaray

Lansana Sawi

Monguehy Fanzy

Robert V Walsh

Andrew L Josiah

Jim Walker

Performer

Castulo Guerra

Tony Owen

Steve Passewe

John Ortiz

Mariah Campbell

Kevin J O'connr

Ingrid Walters

Samuel Orekhio

Ibrahim Sesay

Pete Postlethwaite

George Kamara

Ray Fisher

Lead Person

James Moses

Joseph Kosseh

Sherly Acosta Williams

Hon. Harry A Blackmun

Charles Udoma

George Gerdes

Peter Firth

Omo Lara Tosin

Geno Silva

Charlean Isata Bangalie

Marlon Francis

Austin Pendleton

Gerald R Molen

Yaya Sissoko

Samuel Pieh

El Hadj Malik Sow

Sean Mcguirk

Denver Dowridge

David Paymer

Abdul-fatai Balogun

Xander Berkeley

Leon Singer

Paul Mwakutuya

Prince Coke

Willie Onafesso

Willie Amakye

Andrew Shoemo

Ahmed Bangura

Daniel Reid

Mark Woods

Lead Person

Michael Massee

Amadou Traore

Tomas Milian

Abu Sidique

Curtis Shields

Jeremy Shelton

Bundu Kamara

Clarence Mobley

Rusty Schwimmer

M S Kaleiwo

Bernard Singleton

Ransford Thomas

Rory Burton

Arliss Howard

Harry Groener

Abu Bakaar Fofanah

Razaaq Adoti

Sylvestre Massaquoi

Lester Mombelly

William Young

Chike Okpala

Ralph Brown

Lawal Tajudeen

Michael Riley

Juliette Darko

Pedro Armendßriz

Habib Conteh

Luc Assogba

Jimmy Fotso

Sheriff Kargbo

Edward Appiah

Samson Odede

Allan Rich

Seydou Coulibaly

Victor Rivers

Roosevelt Flenoury

Brian Macon

Adekunle Ilori

Jack Forwalter

Lead Person

Lamine Thiam

Issac Mayanja

Stephen Conteh

Tony Onafesso

Roy Cooper

Baboucar Jobe

Carlos Spivey

Jake Weber

Daniel Von Bargen

Hawthorne James

Stellan Skarsgård

Matt Sarles

Derrick N Ashong

Frank T. Wells

Crew

Richard Abate Jr.

Driver

Richard Abate

Driver

Dr. Arthur Abraham

Advisor

Dr. Arthur Abraham

Song

Adelbert Acevedo

Makeup

Deena Adair

Hair Stylist

Dr. Todd J Adelman

Medic

Karine Albano

Electrician

Luis Rosario Albert

Assistant Director

Jon Alexander

Visual Effects

Jim Alfonso

Driver

Daniel J Allen

Driver

Debbie Allen

Producer

Debbie Allen

Song

Michael Altman

Projectionist

Kokayi Ampah

Location Manager

Robert Apisa

Stunts

James M Arnett

Stunt Coordinator

Seth Arnett

Stunts

Shane Barach

Extras Casting Assistant

Andrew Barczewski

Grip

Denise Barker

Stunts

Leslie Barnett

Assistant

Fernando Barraza

Driver

Joseph F Barth

Driver

Steve Bauerfeind

Apprentice

Anna Behlmer

Rerecording

Mei-ling Belmont

Assistant

Susan Benjamin

Assistant Set Decorator

Dr. Lerone Bennett

Special Thanks To

John Berger

Assistant Art Director

Carlos Bermudez

Electrician

Nick Bernstein

Location Manager

Chrissie Beveridge

Hair Stylist

Kelly Birrer

Other

John Blake

Makeup

Marek Bojsza

Electrician

Edward H Boyajian

Driver

Eric Boyle

Grip

David Brace

Other

Rosemary Brandenburg

Set Decorator

Jill Brooks

Visual Effects

Arnold Brown

Grip

Sundai Brown

Set Production Assistant

Christopher Burian-mohr

Art Director

Gary Burritt

Negative Cutting

Nelson Bush

Swing Gang

Richard Byard

Assistant Editor

Randy Cabral

Special Effects Foreman

John Caglione Jr.

Makeup Artist

Charles L Campbell

Sound Editor

Tony Campenni

Grip

John Canavan

Driver

Lon Caracappa

Best Boy

Rick Carter

Production Designer

Ronald D Carter

Driver

Ruth Carter

Costume Designer

Tami Carter

Visual Effects

Yolanda Carter

Costumes

Jamale Case

Medic

Kenneth Catando

Driver

Ana Cayere

Costumes

Jake Cerrone

Grip

Eric Chambers

Stunts

John Chaney

Assistant

Robert Chartier

Driver

Robert Chase

Costumes

Jeffrey A Clark

Sound Editor

Peter Clores

Driver

Kim Coleman

Casting Associate

Bob Collins

Stand-In

Kevin Conlin

Foreman

Teresa Conners

Set Production Assistant

Laura Connors

Auditor

Steve Conrow

Construction

Caitlin Content

Art Department

Mary Cook

Hair Stylist

Andrew Cooper

Photography

Bob Cooper

Co-Executive Producer

Bill Corso

Makeup Assistant

Patrick Crane

Assistant Editor

Vic Cuccia

Other

Mike Cuevas

Office Assistant

Fred Culbertson

Driver

Chris Culliton

Electrician

Bonnie Curtis

Associate Producer

Bernard Dadie

Other

Susan Dangel

Research Assistant

Lisa Davis

Stunts

Chris Daywalt

Other

Sandy De Crescent

Music Contractor

Richard Dearmas

Other

Paul Deason

Associate Producer

Paul Deason

Unit Production Manager

Greg Dennen

Other

Nancy Deren

Set Designer

Beau Desmond

Costumes

Maria Devane

Post-Production Accountant

David Devlin

Gaffer

Professor Glenda Dickerson

Special Thanks To

Michael Diieso

Grip

Pamela Dillard

Soloist

Daniel Dirks

Costumes

Jim Doherty

Visual Effects

John Donahue

Driver

Michael Douglas

Other

Peter J Dowd

Set Production Assistant

Dean Drabin

Adr Mixer

Dana Driscoll

Driver

Mitch Dubin

Camera Operator

Richard Duran

Stunts

Roch Dutkowiak

Electrician

Deana Duval

Driver

John J Eagan

Set Production Assistant

Michael C. Easter

Driver

Don Easy

Driver

Jerry M Edemann

Assistant Sound Editor

Keith Edemann

Apprentice

Louis L Edemann

Sound Editor

Ronald Eng

Sound Editor

Kevin Erb

Best Boy Grip

John A Escobar

Stunts

Mark Eshelman

Other

Luis R. Estrella

Location Assistant

Kevin Fahey

Best Boy Grip

Sven E M Fahlgren

Post-Production Coordinator

Mary Fallick

Stunts

Edward Fanning

Driver

Tony Fanning

Art Director

Carla Farmer

Hair Stylist

Scott Farrar

Visual Effects Supervisor

Ed Fassl

Sound Editor

Leslee Feldman

Special Thanks To

Michael Fennimore

Driver

Frank Ferrara

Stunts

Sandi Figueroa

Set Costumer

Gina Flanagan

Costume Illustrator

Frank Fleming

Assistant Costume Designer

Alsie L Florence

Sound

Frank Foley

Other

Luz Margarita Fonseca

Costumes

Professor John Hope Franklin

Special Thanks To

Rick Franklin

Sound Editor

David Franzoni

Screenplay

Erica Frauman

Post-Production Supervisor

John D Frederitz

Driver

Jeffrey Frink

Special Effects Foreman

Marc Fusco

Production Assistant

Matt Galvin

Office Assistant

Scott Garrett

Other

Robert Gaskill

Driver

Henry Louis Gates

Special Thanks To

Leonard T Geschke

Sound Editor

James Giblin

Driver

Cheryl Gibson

Accounting Assistant

Charley H Gilleran

Key Rigging Grip

Kelly Gleason

Makeup Artist

Bill Glesne

Other

Robert Gomula

Driver

Rene Gonzalez

Projectionist

Ron Goodman

Other

Dale Grahn

Color Timer

George Grenier

Driver

Martin L Grimes

Props Assistant

Mark Gustawes

Assistant

Walt Hadfield

Construction Coordinator

Tina Hamilton

Set Production Assistant

Steven R Hammond

Transportation Captain

Michael Hancock

Makeup

Professor Joseph E Harris

Special Thanks To

Terence Harris

Extras Agent/Coordinator

Barbara J Hause

Costumes

Joseph Hawkins

Driver

Angela Heald

Production Supervisor

Douglas Henri

Grip

Sandra Hernandez

Assistant Costume Designer

Rick Hicks

Other

Sean Hobin

Assistant Director

Hilda Hodges

Foley Artist

Danielle Hollowell

Costumes

Gordon Huggins

Other

Doug Jackson

Sound Editor

Kevin Lamont Jackson

Stunts

Robert C Jackson

Sound Mixer

Askia Won-ling Jacob

Set Costumer

Boysie Jereza

Accountant

Matthew Jerome

Production Assistant

Jose Jimenez

Casting Associate

Priscilla John

Location Casting

Dr. Clifton Johnson

Researcher

Joy Johnson

Assistant

Marci R Johnson

Set Costumer

Ed Johnston

Other

Brent L Jones

Grip

Eric P Jones

Assistant Director

Professor Howard Jones

Special Thanks To

Kristen Frances Jones

On-Set Dresser

Tom Jordan

Other

Vincente Juarbe

Assistant Director

Ronald Judkins

Sound Mixer

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Historical
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
1997
Distribution Company
AMBLIN PARTNERS/UNITED INTERNATIONAL PICTURES (UIP)
Location
San Juan, Puerto Rico; Sonalyst Studios, Waterford, Connecticut, USA; Newport, Rhode Island, USA; Mystic, Massachusetts, USA; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Universal City Studios, California, USA; Providence, Rhode Island, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 32m

Award Nominations

Best Cinematography

1997

Best Costume Design

1997

Best Score (Dramatic Picture)

1997

Best Supporting Actor

1997
Anthony Hopkins

Articles

Amistad


By the time Amistad reached theaters in late 1997, Steven Spielberg had been a directorial superstar for more than twenty years, with mega hits like Jaws (1975), the Indiana Jones franchise, and the Jurassic Park pictures to his credit. He'd had a harder time getting recognized as a mature and thoughtful filmmaker, but after disappointments such as The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun in 1985 and 1987, he'd finally done the trick with Schindler's List in 1993, earning enthusiastic reviews and his first Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture. Amistad was another bid for respectability beyond the thrills-and-spills genres, and again he chose a fact-based vehicle that combined historical interest with emotional human drama. This time the reviews were all over the map, and its four Oscar® nominations didn't include Spielberg or the picture itself.

The film begins in the dark, misery-filled hold of the Amistad, a ship carrying kidnapped Africans from Cuba to the American slave market in 1839. One of the prisoners, a tribal leader named Cinque, manages to break out of his chains and lead a revolt against the captain and crew, in which nearly all of the white sailors are killed. Ordered to head toward Africa, where the captives naturally want to return, the surviving crewmen steer the ship northward on the sly, winding up off the coast of Connecticut, where the US Navy moves in and seizes the vessel.

This ends the action-oriented part of Amistad, which now becomes a legal drama with many scenes set in courtrooms and law offices. Connecticut is a non-slavery state, but that doesn't mean it's an anti-slavery state, as the fifty-three captives discover when battles break out among various people claiming ownership of the Amistad's human cargo, up to and including Isabella II, the Spanish queen. A happy ending comes about when former US president John Quincy Adams makes a rousing presentation to the Supreme Court that results in freedom for Cinque and his companions, who have languished behind bars throughout the seemingly interminable ordeal.

The idea of filming the Amistad affair came from actress and director Debbie Allen, who had run across some books on the subject. After running into fund-raising problems, she brought the project to Spielberg, who wanted to stretch his artistic wings after making The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), and was looking for a prestige production to direct for DreamWorks SKG, the studio he'd recently co-founded. Spielberg was an unlikely person to tackle the Amistad story, since his previous picture about black characters, The Color Purple, had been badly received by the black community, its eleven Oscar® nominations (no wins) notwithstanding. "I got such a bollocking for The Color Purple," he told a New York Times interviewer, "I thought, I'll never do that again." But he saw great potential in the Amistad story and decided to take it on, even though his crowded schedule meant doing preproduction while DreamWorks was still being launched and postproduction while Saving Private Ryan (1998) was before the camera. Spielberg signed an impressive cast including Anthony Hopkins and Matthew McConaughey, recruited fledgling actor Djimon Hounsou for the key role of Cinque, and assembled a panel of African-American scholars to serve as historical advisors. According to pre-release publicity, he and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski prepared the film's visual style by studying the paintings of Francisco Goya.

Amistad ran into trouble immediately after Spielberg wrapped it, thanks to a legal action filed by the author of a historical novel about the Amistad mutiny. The lawsuit called for damages of $10 million and an injunction barring the film's release, claiming that Spielberg's production company had received a draft of the novel in 1988 and plundered it for "scenes, characters and plot devices," such as the black abolitionist lawyer played by Morgan Freeman, who existed in the novel but not in the real-life Amistad case. The lawsuit sank (after DreamWorks negotiated a monetary settlement) and Amistad sailed into theaters on schedule, but not before the flap generated amusing headlines like Entertainment Weekly's "Mutiny and the Bounty" and Time's "Steven Stealberg?"

Despite its Hollywood stars, dramatic subject, and social conscience, Amistad hit very rough seas when reviewers and audiences got a look at it. Hostile reactions to The Color Purple had left Spielberg with "deep scars," in the words of film scholar Lester D. Friedman, but his second venture into black experience fared even worse, grossing a mere $44 million domestically (compared with $94 million for the earlier film) and a paltry $16.2 worldwide – the worst performance of any Spielberg picture to this day, including such legendary let-downs as 1941 (1979) and Always (1989). Among the African-American observers who supported it was critic Armond White, who named it the year's best movie and wrote an essay in Film Comment analyzing and praising it. Among those who derided it was filmmaker Warrington Hudlin, who said that "black people don't want to go to this movie" because only masochists "would want to spend two hours watching themselves be degraded and dehumanized."

White critics were equally divided. "While it's in progress," wrote Stanley Kaufmann in The New Republic, "it envelops us; paradoxically, when it's finished, it seems to stand free, like a strong sculpture." The reviewer for The Washington Post stated that it "again demonstrates the director's flair for bringing lost worlds alive," and Time said that Spielberg "unsentimentally places us in touch with our best sentiments." On the downside, the Rocky Mountain News opined that Amistad's "rendering of history plays like a massive term paper" and Entertainment Weekly described it as "two and a half hours of black men sitting around in chains waiting to be given their freedom." In my Christian Science Monitor review I observed that no African character except Cinque is allowed to present an individual personality, just as most of the Jewish characters in Schindler's List are depicted as an undifferentiated crowd. I also criticized the claim that Goya's "unromanticized realism" had inspired the look of Amistad, since the picture "is drenched so stiflingly in romanticized mistiness that `realism' is one of the last words...to describe it."

Spielberg himself eventually recognized the shortcomings of his ambitious period piece. "I kind of dried it out," he told an interviewer in 1999, "and it became too much of a history lesson." Yet the mixed responses to Amistad when it was new lend it extra interest now, giving viewers a chance to evaluate not only the film but judgments about the film, some of which hold up well while others seem to have missed the point. Spielberg probably won't tackle a specifically black subject again, after the poor showings of Amistad and The Color Purple; but his plan to direct the Civil War epic Lincoln indicates that he's still drawn to the dramatic possibilities of America's racially troubled past.

Producers: Steven Spielberg, Debbie Allen, Colin Wilson
Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: David Franzoni
Cinematographer: Janusz Kaminski
Film Editing: Michael Kahn
Production Design: Rick Carter
Music: John Williams
Cast: Morgan Freeman (Joadson), Nigel Hawthorne (Martin Van Buren), Anthony Hopkins (John Quincy Adams), Djimon Hounsou (Cinque), Matthew McConaughey (Baldwin), David Paymer (Secretary Forsyth), Pete Postlethwaite (Holabird), Stellan Skarsgård (Tappan), Razaaq Adoti (Yamba), Abu Bakaar Fofanah (Fala), Anna Paquin (Queen Isabella), Tomas Milian (Calderon), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Ensign Cobey), Derrick N. Ashong (Buakei), Geno Silva (Ruiz), John Ortiz (Montes), Ralph Brown (Lieutenant Gedney), Darren Burrows (Lieutenant Meade), Allan Rich (Judge Juttson), Paul Guilfoyle (attorney), Peter Firth (Captain Fitzgerald), Xander Berkeley (Hammond), Jeremy Northam (Judge Coglin), Arliss Howard (John C. Calhoun), Austin Pendleton (Professor Gibbs), Kevin J. O'Connor (missionary), Harry A. Blackmun (Associate Justice Joseph Story).
C-152m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by David Sterritt
Amistad

Amistad

By the time Amistad reached theaters in late 1997, Steven Spielberg had been a directorial superstar for more than twenty years, with mega hits like Jaws (1975), the Indiana Jones franchise, and the Jurassic Park pictures to his credit. He'd had a harder time getting recognized as a mature and thoughtful filmmaker, but after disappointments such as The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun in 1985 and 1987, he'd finally done the trick with Schindler's List in 1993, earning enthusiastic reviews and his first Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture. Amistad was another bid for respectability beyond the thrills-and-spills genres, and again he chose a fact-based vehicle that combined historical interest with emotional human drama. This time the reviews were all over the map, and its four Oscar® nominations didn't include Spielberg or the picture itself. The film begins in the dark, misery-filled hold of the Amistad, a ship carrying kidnapped Africans from Cuba to the American slave market in 1839. One of the prisoners, a tribal leader named Cinque, manages to break out of his chains and lead a revolt against the captain and crew, in which nearly all of the white sailors are killed. Ordered to head toward Africa, where the captives naturally want to return, the surviving crewmen steer the ship northward on the sly, winding up off the coast of Connecticut, where the US Navy moves in and seizes the vessel. This ends the action-oriented part of Amistad, which now becomes a legal drama with many scenes set in courtrooms and law offices. Connecticut is a non-slavery state, but that doesn't mean it's an anti-slavery state, as the fifty-three captives discover when battles break out among various people claiming ownership of the Amistad's human cargo, up to and including Isabella II, the Spanish queen. A happy ending comes about when former US president John Quincy Adams makes a rousing presentation to the Supreme Court that results in freedom for Cinque and his companions, who have languished behind bars throughout the seemingly interminable ordeal. The idea of filming the Amistad affair came from actress and director Debbie Allen, who had run across some books on the subject. After running into fund-raising problems, she brought the project to Spielberg, who wanted to stretch his artistic wings after making The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), and was looking for a prestige production to direct for DreamWorks SKG, the studio he'd recently co-founded. Spielberg was an unlikely person to tackle the Amistad story, since his previous picture about black characters, The Color Purple, had been badly received by the black community, its eleven Oscar® nominations (no wins) notwithstanding. "I got such a bollocking for The Color Purple," he told a New York Times interviewer, "I thought, I'll never do that again." But he saw great potential in the Amistad story and decided to take it on, even though his crowded schedule meant doing preproduction while DreamWorks was still being launched and postproduction while Saving Private Ryan (1998) was before the camera. Spielberg signed an impressive cast including Anthony Hopkins and Matthew McConaughey, recruited fledgling actor Djimon Hounsou for the key role of Cinque, and assembled a panel of African-American scholars to serve as historical advisors. According to pre-release publicity, he and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski prepared the film's visual style by studying the paintings of Francisco Goya. Amistad ran into trouble immediately after Spielberg wrapped it, thanks to a legal action filed by the author of a historical novel about the Amistad mutiny. The lawsuit called for damages of $10 million and an injunction barring the film's release, claiming that Spielberg's production company had received a draft of the novel in 1988 and plundered it for "scenes, characters and plot devices," such as the black abolitionist lawyer played by Morgan Freeman, who existed in the novel but not in the real-life Amistad case. The lawsuit sank (after DreamWorks negotiated a monetary settlement) and Amistad sailed into theaters on schedule, but not before the flap generated amusing headlines like Entertainment Weekly's "Mutiny and the Bounty" and Time's "Steven Stealberg?" Despite its Hollywood stars, dramatic subject, and social conscience, Amistad hit very rough seas when reviewers and audiences got a look at it. Hostile reactions to The Color Purple had left Spielberg with "deep scars," in the words of film scholar Lester D. Friedman, but his second venture into black experience fared even worse, grossing a mere $44 million domestically (compared with $94 million for the earlier film) and a paltry $16.2 worldwide – the worst performance of any Spielberg picture to this day, including such legendary let-downs as 1941 (1979) and Always (1989). Among the African-American observers who supported it was critic Armond White, who named it the year's best movie and wrote an essay in Film Comment analyzing and praising it. Among those who derided it was filmmaker Warrington Hudlin, who said that "black people don't want to go to this movie" because only masochists "would want to spend two hours watching themselves be degraded and dehumanized." White critics were equally divided. "While it's in progress," wrote Stanley Kaufmann in The New Republic, "it envelops us; paradoxically, when it's finished, it seems to stand free, like a strong sculpture." The reviewer for The Washington Post stated that it "again demonstrates the director's flair for bringing lost worlds alive," and Time said that Spielberg "unsentimentally places us in touch with our best sentiments." On the downside, the Rocky Mountain News opined that Amistad's "rendering of history plays like a massive term paper" and Entertainment Weekly described it as "two and a half hours of black men sitting around in chains waiting to be given their freedom." In my Christian Science Monitor review I observed that no African character except Cinque is allowed to present an individual personality, just as most of the Jewish characters in Schindler's List are depicted as an undifferentiated crowd. I also criticized the claim that Goya's "unromanticized realism" had inspired the look of Amistad, since the picture "is drenched so stiflingly in romanticized mistiness that `realism' is one of the last words...to describe it." Spielberg himself eventually recognized the shortcomings of his ambitious period piece. "I kind of dried it out," he told an interviewer in 1999, "and it became too much of a history lesson." Yet the mixed responses to Amistad when it was new lend it extra interest now, giving viewers a chance to evaluate not only the film but judgments about the film, some of which hold up well while others seem to have missed the point. Spielberg probably won't tackle a specifically black subject again, after the poor showings of Amistad and The Color Purple; but his plan to direct the Civil War epic Lincoln indicates that he's still drawn to the dramatic possibilities of America's racially troubled past. Producers: Steven Spielberg, Debbie Allen, Colin Wilson Director: Steven Spielberg Screenplay: David Franzoni Cinematographer: Janusz Kaminski Film Editing: Michael Kahn Production Design: Rick Carter Music: John Williams Cast: Morgan Freeman (Joadson), Nigel Hawthorne (Martin Van Buren), Anthony Hopkins (John Quincy Adams), Djimon Hounsou (Cinque), Matthew McConaughey (Baldwin), David Paymer (Secretary Forsyth), Pete Postlethwaite (Holabird), Stellan Skarsgård (Tappan), Razaaq Adoti (Yamba), Abu Bakaar Fofanah (Fala), Anna Paquin (Queen Isabella), Tomas Milian (Calderon), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Ensign Cobey), Derrick N. Ashong (Buakei), Geno Silva (Ruiz), John Ortiz (Montes), Ralph Brown (Lieutenant Gedney), Darren Burrows (Lieutenant Meade), Allan Rich (Judge Juttson), Paul Guilfoyle (attorney), Peter Firth (Captain Fitzgerald), Xander Berkeley (Hammond), Jeremy Northam (Judge Coglin), Arliss Howard (John C. Calhoun), Austin Pendleton (Professor Gibbs), Kevin J. O'Connor (missionary), Harry A. Blackmun (Associate Justice Joseph Story). C-152m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by David Sterritt

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of the 1998 European Film Award for European Achievement in World Cinema (Stellan Skarsgard).

Janusz Kaminski was nominated in the feature film category for the 1997 Outstanding Achievement Awards sponsored by the American Society of Cinematographers.

Nominated for the 1997 Golden Laurel award (Steven Spielberg, Debbie Allen and Colin Wilson) by the Producers Guild of America.

Nominated for two 1997 NAACP Image Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Djimon Hounsou).

Steven Spielberg was nominated for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in 1997 by the Directors Guild of America.

Released in United States Winter December 10, 1997

Limited Release in United States December 12, 1997

Wide Release in United States December 25, 1997

Released in United States on Video June 30, 1998

Released in United States 1998

Released in United States January 1998

Released in United States February 1998

Released in United States December 1998

Shown at American Film Market (AFM) in Santa Monica, California February 26 - March 6, 1998.

Shown at Brussels International Film Festival January 20-31, 1998.

Shown at Olso Film Days in Oslo, Norway February 6-12, 1998.

Shown at Havana Film Festival in Havana, Cuba December 1-11, 1998.

Attornies for novelist Barbara Chase-Riboud filed a $10,000,000 suit against the makers of "Amistad" in an attempt to block its release. They claimed that the filmmakers plagiarized her work "Echo of Lions." The suit was subsequently dropped after DreamWorks suggested that "Echo of Lions" actually plagiarized sections of the book "Black Mutiny."

Screenwriter David Franzoni was previously hired by Dustin Hoffman's Punch Productions to adapt Barbara Chase-Riboud's "Echo of Lions" for a film that was to star Dustin Hoffman as John Quincy Adams and to be directed by Barry Levinson.

Completed shooting April 30, 1997.

Began shooting February 18, 1997.

Steven Zaillian contributed to a draft of the screenplay, but after WGA arbitration did not receive screen credit.

Released in United States Winter December 10, 1997

Limited Release in United States December 12, 1997

Wide Release in United States December 25, 1997

Released in United States on Video June 30, 1998

Released in United States 1998 (Shown at American Film Market (AFM) in Santa Monica, California February 26 - March 6, 1998.)

Released in United States January 1998 (Shown at Brussels International Film Festival January 20-31, 1998.)

Released in United States February 1998 (Shown at Olso Film Days in Oslo, Norway February 6-12, 1998.)

Released in United States December 1998 (Shown at Havana Film Festival in Havana, Cuba December 1-11, 1998.)