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Originally posted by Black Viking:
For me, the most profound scene was when Cinque was sitting with Adams and spoke about calling his ancestors. He said, "And they must come. Because, at this moment, I am the only reason that they had existed at all."

True that scene was memorable and another was Cinque's "give us free" statement during the court trial.
the story was a good one although I would have loved to see a black man or woman direct. A whole lot was put on how angelic Adams was to the cause, in a time where we was once the president of a slave holding country. the irony was crazy. Also a profound scene for me was when the africans were looking at Morgan Freeman and although they couldnt speak the langauge they identified with him .Then the scene when Morgan was below deck and stubbled into the chains, and it was almost spiritual the feeling he portrayed almost feeling the pain and coming to the realization to the fact he and so many blacks came to this Country via the same passage.
I hadn't heard of this film before so I went and hired it DVD. Here are my thoughts on the story telling and its impact.

I found it a very compelling and well-crafted film and insight into the living, breathing hell of human captives and their being seen in terms of 'cargo' with disputed 'ownership'. Frown

It reminds me of one of the central ideas of Jarrod Diamond's 'Guns, Germs and Steel' - where would the whites have been without their guns?

I don't think anyone - white or black - can fully comprehend what the african 'human cargo' endured during trans Atlantic slavery. To me, it is unthinkable, unforgivable and unfathomable.

After the mutiny, it was powerful to watch the Africans navigate their ship by the stars - like the ancients - knowing they could at least put their trust in nature.

It must have been an extremely difficult and confronting film to re-enact for all the actors, particularly those of African heritage. The scene of Morgan Freeman falling among the slave chains on the empty ship was spine-chilling.

Unbelievably, there were some wry moments of humour, especially the comments made about the Christian group assembled in support outside the prison - well-meaning but clueless nonetheless - looking 'sick' and 'miserable'.

And the comments made about the white people speaking "gibberish" and "being idiots".

I liked also that the film indicated the group were from different regions and tribes, not just a 'generic' African group.

I was grateful of the lack of American accents, and that the Africans did speak in Mende not 'american.' Also that American 'flag-waving' was kept to a minimum. Except for the dreaded tuba/trombone wailing sentimentally in the background of the 'we're the good (white) guys' scenes. (nothing new with American films though Roll Eyes )

The film delivered some powerful and chilling lines including:

The integrity of African culture: "There is no word in Mende for 'should'. You either do it or you don't".

then the less than happy...

"They (the slaves) may be more important to our struggle in their death. As matyrs..." spoken by an abolishionist.

Spoken by Morgan Freeman: "(for some men)...hatred of slavery is greater than anything, but the slave himself."

"The africans must never be free." spoken before a 'new judge' was selected.

...and of course the simplicity and horror of the comment spoken by Djimon referring to America: "What kind of place is this?"

What kind of place indeed?

- - - -

On another note, others may argue, but I thought Djimon Hounsou did a great acting job. And on a purely aesthetic note, I will say that I think Djimon is the most beautiful looking man I have ever seen. Only on the screen, unfortunately.
Originally posted by James Wesley Chester:
Let me say that I a poor judge of acting, but...

I really, really didn't see an academy award performance in the work of the John Adams character.

What did I miss?

The final scene when John Adams addresses the Supreme Court.

Specifically, I think he nailed the mannerisms and accent of the times. Then there is the commanding presence that is typical of Anthony Hopkins. Although he acknowleged in an earlier scene that they had little hope of winning, he showed no sign of doubt. Of course, he didn't write the dialogue, but he delivered it masterfully. Playing on the justices own still very fresh desire for freedom. Freedom from the influence of Europe as well as that of the President. He gave me the impression that he was toying with the Supreme Court. It made me smile... bsm
The final scene when John Adams addresses the Supreme Court.---Black Viking

The academy award for that sequence?

I didn't see the caliber of performance there.

I think Hopkins' nomination was a deference gesture to the significance of the movie.

He was the only actor nominated.

I don't think his was the best performance in the film.

In supporting roles:

I thought Hounsu's was better.

I thought Freeman's was comparable, but no 'big scene'.


Jim Chester
this may be of interest...

the above link has a virtual tour.

The future is when history matters

Welcome to AMISTAD America

AMISTAD America, Inc. is a national, non-profit organization. We promote improved relationships between races and cultures by educating the public through common experiences and dialogue based on the lessons of freedom, justice perseverance, cooperation and leadership arising from the historic Amistad Incident of 1839, symbolized by the Freedom Schooner Amistad.
Originally posted by art_gurl:
It reminds me of one of the central ideas of Jarrod Diamond's 'Guns, Germs and Steel' - where would the whites have been without their guns?

That's a very good point, Art. I've often wondered what would have become of America if not for the slaves. I'm leaning toward the idea that the Native Americans would have eventually over ran them, had they not had the endless resources cultivated by slavery.

It must have been an extremely difficult and confronting film to re-enact for all the actors, particularly those of African heritage.

There is a note about this on the inside of the DVD flyer. It reads...

"Part of what the African cast would be dealing with was reenacting the Middle Passage, the torturous journey from Africa, when chained Africans endured weeks and sometimes months of being whipped and starved in slave ship cargo holds. Producer Collin Wilson says, 'There are images from the filming of this movie that are going to be permanently imprinted in our minds, because we felt we actually witnessed what the Africans were subjected to on their journey. It tore many of us apart emotionally. There were several sequences where the visuals were so powerful that many cast and crew members were reduced to tears'."

Also that American 'flag-waving' was kept to a minimum.

I agree. But keep in mind, situational stories about slavery do not highlight our proudest moments as a country. I've found that Euro-Americans, in particular, become very uncomfortable looking down the barrel of the gun that their ancestors carried.
I think it was one of those instances where it was so "hyped" that when you finally saw the movie it didn't meat expectations.

I knew of the story but fond it focused on making Adams the hero. I think another issue is that it was directed by Spielberg. With how he covered "his" peoples story in "Shiendler's List "(sp?). I guess I hoped he would have done a better job.
Clearly, the outstanding supporting performance in this film was delivered by Djimon Hounsou.

In continuing to consider this film, it becomes apparent to me that American institutions do not know how to recognize artistry in people who are not European.

They often see artistic performance as savant behavior.

Alternatively, they cannot recognize acting by non-European as acting; rather it is 'just who they are'.

Both emphatically true for actors of African ancestry.


Jim Chester

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