I'm sure that "Amistad" will soon be making the rounds in elementary schools across the country to teach little kids that slavery and racism were "bad" things. Maybe Steven Spielberg's next "important" film can be about kicking dogs or beating baby seals.
History is a hell of a lot more complicated than "Amistad" wants you to believe. By Spielberg's account, the revolt aboard the slave ship Amistad, and subsequent court case in the United States in 1841, was a crucial turning point in American history. When John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins) and Roger Baldwin (Matthew McConaughey) argued that the slaves should be declared free men, they not only caused the Civil War, but forever changed the way white people regarded black people.
That must be why so many white people are still sitting in the quiet confines of their trailer homes sneezing out the word "nigger" like they were suffering from racial hay fever. It seems to me that Spielberg's film serves two purposes: to make him feel good about himself and to make white people in general feel good about themselves because they can now watch "Amistad" and pat each other on the back for turning over a new leaf all the way back in 1841.
Oh yeah, black people can feel really good about themselves too because the main character, Cinque, is so active in his own release. Hey, why let 300 years of slavery get in the way of anyone's self-esteem?
With all this warmhearted activity you'd think the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1864, not 1964. If Steven Spielberg is going to spend 2 hours and 45 minutes lecturing me on U.S. history, he ought to understand context. When facts are dictated through melodrama they are almost always manipulated to suit the purpose of the author. Spielberg would have been better off just telling a story instead of making us endure his amateurish attempt at a history lesson.
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