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Amistad

DOWN & DIRTY:
Drama: A deadly rebellion on board a slave ship begins a legal battle as to what should happen to the slaves after they've been captured and imprisoned.

NITTY GRITTY:
In 1839, La Amistad, a slave ship carrying illegally obtained African slaves, sails from Cuba. After one of the men, Cinque (DJIMON HOUNSOU), manages to break free from his shackles, he and the other slaves attack and kill all but two of the crew members.

At sea for six more weeks, the Amistad finally makes it to America. Captured and imprisoned, their presence sets off a controversy over who owns them, or whether they are free men.

Their story draws the attention of two abolitionists, former slave Theodore Joadson (MORGAN FREEMAN) and a local businessman, Tappan (STELLAN SKARSGARD). Unable to find a high profile lawyer to represent the men, they settle on property lawyer Roger Baldwin (MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY) who believes he can get the men off on a technicality.

His opposition in the case includes Holabird (PETE POSTLETHWAITE), the prosecutor, and Secretary Forsyth (DAVID PAYMER) who uses his influence with President Martin Van Buren (NIGEL HAWTHORNE) to alter the proceedings in their favor.

Baldwin's problems are compounded by the fact that neither he, nor the African men, can understand each other's language. Once they resolve this problem via an interpreter, Baldwin and Joadson then try to persuade former President and now Congressman John Quincy Adams (ANTHONY HOPKINS) to assist them.

Although he initially turned them down, Adams decides to join them once he learns the case has been sent to the Supreme Court. As Baldwin and Adams prepare for the case, they come to better understand Cinque and the other Africans' lives.

THE ENDING:
Baldwin and Adams win the Supreme Court case and the Africans are sent back to their home. Unfortunately, Cinque's family is gone and he never finds them. The old slave prison is blown up by ships in the harbor.

WHAT EVERYONE WILL BE TALKING ABOUT:
Matthew McConaughey's mutton chops.

 
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