Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Amistad vs Titanic... are you kidding me?

I finally saw the movie Amistad last night, and I can't believe it took me 10 years to see it! For those who don't know, Amistad is an amazing movie by Steven Spielberg, and this plot summary on IMDB.com succinctly describes it better than I could:

Amistad is the name of a slave ship traveling from Cuba to the U.S. in 1839. It is carrying a cargo of Africans who have been sold into slavery in Cuba, taken on board, and chained in the cargo hold of the ship. As the ship is crossing from Cuba to the U.S., Cinque, who was a tribal leader in Africa, leads a mutiny and takes over the ship. They continue to sail, hoping to find help when they land. Instead, when they reach the United States, they are imprisoned as runaway slaves. They don't speak a word of English, and it seems like they are doomed to die for killing their captors when an abolitionist lawyer decides to take their case, arguing that they were free citizens of another country and not slaves at all. The case finally gets to the Supreme Court, where John Quincy Adams makes an impassioned and eloquent plea for their release.

came out the same year as James Cameron's Titanic, and my favorite movie As Good As It Gets, starring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. The reason I'm flabbergasted about the movie vs Titanic is because of the awards that were bestowed upon the movie. Amistad was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Anthony Hopkins as John Quincy Adams), Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Music (Original Dramatic Score by John Williams). It won none. Zero. Zilch. I can count on one hand the number of awards it won overall from the slew of award presentations throughout the year. Why? I have no clue. However, Titanic, which admittedly was beautifully done, with breathtaking music and fine acting, won ELEVEN Oscars. It was a great movie, and I remember getting caught up in the Titanic hype, but to now be a bit older and wiser, and cannot believe that it won so much and Amistad won so little. My favorite movie, As Good As It Gets, won Best Actor and Actress that year (Nicholson and Hunt) and even I am flabbergasted that Nicholson beat out Anthony Hopkins, or that Djimon Hounsou (as the "lead" African, Cinque) wasn't even nominated!

I watched this movie, on the edge of my seat, often weeping openly at the atrocities depicted toward these Africans aboard the slave-trade ships, and literally jumped to my feet for joy when they are victorious in the Supreme Court at the end of the movie. It is everything a great movie should be. And Spielberg wasn't even nominated for Best Director. Are you kidding me? I guess I'm feeling now what many people probably felt 10 years ago!! Anyway, if you are looking to Netflix a movie and choose this one, prepare yourself. It is gore-ishly violent, but it is necessary. I think you will agree that this movie deserved more than it got.

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