Box art for Amistad



This Steven Spielberg-directed exploration into a past episode in African-American history recounts the trial that followed the 1839 rebellion aboard the Spanish slave ship Amistad and captures the political maneuverings set in motion by the event.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

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common sense

ON for kids age 14
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
0 out of 5
0 out of 5
3 out of 5
4 out of 5

Powerful story for mid-teens and up.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie deals with issues of race, slavery, and the legal system.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about why it was important to prove where the Africans were from. What was Calhoun's justification for slavery? Why does Tappan say that the death of the Africans may help the cause of abolition more than their freedom? Why does Spielberg organize his story this way, taking the audience from the confrontation to the courtroom and only later providing the background about the capture of the Africans? What does it mean that there is no Mende word for "should"?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 23
    see all Amistad reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews


- Andrew Sarris, New York Observer, Friday, April 27, 2007

Rotten: Amistad is prestige filmmaking bereft of inspiration -- sometimes even of the nuts and bolts of craft.

- Charles Taylor,, Saturday, January 1, 2000


- Dragan Antulov,, Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Audience Reviews

3 stars

Captivating drama, even if it counts as one of Spielberg's lesser films. By "lesser", however, I just mean that isn't as fantastic or memorable as some of his other movies. Because it's still a good and well-crafted piece of film-making, with an impressive array of top notch actors (most notably Anthony Hopkins, who is fantastic as always). There's not a bad performance to be found and everyone gives it their best to make this a riveting experience. If you're easily disturbed you may want to think twice about watching it though. Because the story includes some deeply horrifying scenes, with no holds barred in its graphic violence and human mistreatment. At the same time though, that's also what makes it as gripping as it is. A true testament to Spielberg's versatility as a director. Because anyone who can go from family-friendly movies like Hook and E.T, to something as adult and somber as this (while maintaining the same cinematic quality), has surely earned my utmost admiration.

- CloudStrife84, Saturday, October 16, 2010

4 stars

Based on a powerful true story, this lengthly, but intense tale, shows the graphic reality of the brutal, torture during the slave trade years. Whilst it was Anthony Hopkins who received an Academy Award nomination for his role in this film (which was very worthy) it was Djimon Hounsou, yet again with a very impressive performance who grabbed my attention. Powerful, lengthly, but quite a film!

- 76Majikat, Tuesday, February 16, 2010

5 stars

#5 Amistad Amistad is a slave ship travelling from Cuba to the US in 1839, carrying a cargo of African slaves. As the ship is crossing from Cuba to the US, a mutiny takes over the ship. The slaves continue to sail, hoping to find help when they land. Instead, when they reach the United States, they are imprisoned as runaway slaves and the death sentence seems certain. Enter a rescue in the shape of Hopkins (President John Quincy Adams), who makes an impassioned and eloquent plea for their release. President Speak: "This man is black. We can all see that. But, can we also see as easily, that which is equally true? That he is the only true hero in this room."

- matertenebraum, Sunday, December 21, 2008