Amistad
R
Entertainment: +3 1/2
Acceptability: +2

Based on a true story, this drama begins off the coast of Cuba in the summer of 1839. Here, 53 black slaves are being held captive in the cargo hold of a Spanish slave ship named La Amistad. But they break loose from their iron chains and brutally murder most of the crew. Their leader, Cinque (Djimon Hounsou), demands that two of the crew sail them back to Africa, but they are tricked and sail up the eastern coast of the U.S. to Connecticut. There, they are captured by an American naval ship and put in prison to stand trial for murder and piracy. A young attorney, Roger Baldwin (Matthew McConaughey), takes on their case and the gruesome story of their capture and transport to Cuba is revealed through an interpreter. Although Baldwin wins his case, the case is appealed to the Supreme Court and former president John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins) pleads their case before the Court in a very eloquent and moving presentation. This intense, wrenching film will be too intense for many, but most will find it engrossing and profoundly moving.

AMISTAD will likely win several Academy Award nominations and attract a large box office following. AMISTAD is one of those rare R rated films which can be recommended for more mature viwers. Certainly the scenes of brutality are horrifying. Men are stabbed viciously with swords and slaves are brutally flogged and herded like animals. One gut wrenching scene shows dozens of naked slaves, men and women, roped to a large sack of rocks and pushed overboard. Even so, the violence is honestly realistic and is not used to appeal to prurient interests. Both male genital and female breast nudity of slaves is briefly shown, but again the effect is tragic not sensual. And the dialogue is free of foul language and sexual content. Interestingly, the slaves are introduced to the Bible by a group of Christians and one of the slaves describes the entire life of Jesus to another using Bible pictures. The film graphically portrays the tyranny and ugliness of slavery, but also the compassion and justice which the slaves receive from the judicial system in New England and at the Supreme Court. It is only appropriate for older teenagers and adults, but even they will find the brutal images of the film difficult to forget.

Preview Reviewer: John Evans
Distributor: Dreamworks SKG, 100 Universal Plaza, Building 477, Universal City, CA 91608

Summary
Crude Language: Once-Mild
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: None
Violence: Many Times-Frequently Severe (Bloody, brutal sword stabbings, slaves brutally beaten and herded like cattle, slaves pushed overboard to drown, men shot and killed, slaves held in chains and treated cruelly, hand mashed in door, slave fort destroyed)
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: Several Times -- Brief (Female slave breast nudity few times, brief glimpses of male slave genital nudity, slave rear nudity few times)
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Few Times -- Social drinking
Other: Christians and Bible generally portrayed favorably, but one Christian suggests that a martyred slave would help their cause.
Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Older teens and Adults

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