R | | Drama, History
In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States when the ship is captured off the coast of Long Island. The courts must decide whether the Mende are slaves or legally free.
Producer Debbie Allen spent fourteen years shopping this story around Hollywood, before it entered production.
That one wants us to sail them back. That one thinks he can sail all the way back without us.
While Secretary Forsythe talks with President Van Buren about the dire political consequences of the Amistad Africans being acquitted and suggests dismissing the jury and replacing the judge, there is a bowl of water on the desk at which Van Buren is sitting. During the conversation, the water in the bowl inexplicably changes from clear to dark (presumably its purpose is to clear out the unused ink from quill-pens when Van Buren is done using them, to prevent the hollow part of the quill from getting mucked up with dried ink), then back to clear.
The events depicted did not historically occur at Fort El Morro
The board of film censors of Jamaica have excised the opening scenes, depicting a violent slave uprising on a ship, from all copies of the film released in Jamaican theatres.
English, Mende, Spanish, Portuguese
$4,661,866 (USA) (14 December 1997)
$44,175,394 (USA) (5 April 1998)
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