Before watching the film “Amistad” by Stephen Spielberg I did not know what to expect. Now after the film is over and I struggle to put my thoughts into words, I must say that this is a film that needed to be digested before writing about it. Indeed, I still feel there is more to mull over, and I am sure there are things I will leave out, because this film invokes so many thoughts and emotions.
Since it has been years since I have taken a history class, watching “Amistad” was almost as if I was learning about the slave trade for the first time. There was, and still is, so much I don’t know about what took place. It seems to me that when teaching history we want to sugarcoat everything and make it seem less than what it was. Being able to view one group’s story in this time was eye-opening for me, and something that I needed to see.
The horror of the slave trade is made real in this film. I have a hard time wrapping my head around how cruel one human being can be to another, all because one race feels superior to another, or because one feels the way they do things is superior to another. I do not see how skin color can, in some minds, be the only determining factor in this feeling of superiority. My head reels in disgust at some events throughout history.
The message of equal treatment or freedom for all men is felt throughout the film. The story invokes anger inside the audience and feelings of injustice and frustration as we see the truth be proven time after time in smaller courts, only to have to see these people endure proving their freedom again to the Supreme Court.
It was interesting to me to see that this story seemed to be much of a springboard for the civil war. This was something I either had not known, or had forgotten from history classes I took earlier in my life. Seeing these people have to go through the justice system of a country that is not even theirs, only because the leaders of that country were trying to avoid conflict was nothing but abhorrent to watch.
As justice was finally realized for these people, knowing that war was on the horizon for America, and knowing the needed outcome of that war I finally felt a sense of hope. However, it was fleeting, since Cinque returned home to his own civil war, and his family being sold as slaves.
This film brings to light the struggle, turmoil, and horror endured by the African people during the years of the slave trade, and the infancy of our country. Though hard to watch, it is vital to know the truth.