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.
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
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
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
Matthew McConaughey's mutton