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Slavery and american slave trade in la amistad

In this essay he explores the problems faced by the producers of Amistad and the shortcomings of both the film and its accompanying study guide in their attempt to portray history.

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Posted March Compared with most Hollywood megafilms, Amistad must be considered a step forward: It does contain a few visually compelling moments, such as the scene on a slave ship that viscerally conveys the horrors of the Middle Passage. Overall, however, as a movie Amistad is simply a bore. As history, this account of a Cuban slave ship seized in by its African captives, and their legal travail that ended in the U.

Supreme Court, also leaves much to be desired.

  1. They believed slavery was a sin.
  2. The court upheld the decision, however, meaning that the case would now go before the U.
  3. How will the judges decide?
  4. There, white slave traders bought them.

As in Glory, an earlier film about black Civil War soldiers, Amistad's black characters are essentially foils for white self-discovery and moral growth. This problem is compounded by having the Africans speak Mende, a West African language, with English subtitles. A courageous decision by Hollywood standards, this device backfired along the way when someone realized that Americans do not like subtitled movies, as foreign filmmakers have known for decades.

  • The abolitionists had good lawyers, but they knew they needed more help arguing their case in the Supreme Court;
  • Many were the children of slaves and could not argue they had been kidnapped from Africa;
  • They also hoped Sengbe Pieh and the others could help with their communication problems;
  • Even if they did not like slavery, these people believed the Constitution permitted it.

In the end, most of the Mende dialogue ended up on the cutting- room floor. Apart from the intrepid Cinque, the Africans' leader, we never learn how the captives responded to their ordeal. It would have been far better to have the Africans speak English the film, after all, is historical fictionrather than rendering them virtually mute. The film gives the distinct impression that the Supreme Court was convinced by Adams' plea to repudiate slavery in favor of the natural rights of man, thus taking a major step on the road to abolition.

Abolitionists, Amistad Raise Slavery Issue

In fact, the Amistad case revolved around the Atlantic slave trade — by outlawed by international treaty — and had nothing whatever to do with slavery as an domestic institution.

Incongruous as it may seem, it was perfectly possible in the nineteenth century to condemn the importation of slaves from Africa while simultaneously defending slavery and the flourishing slave trade within the United States.

  1. Amistad does, however, present a notable event in the abolitionist movement in impressive pictures. Instead, they are taken to Connecticut, where they are brought to trial for murder.
  2. TASK 1 Add information about the following parties and explain their roles.
  3. Cinque tells Adams of a Mende tradition, which says when a member of the tribe needs help they appeal to their ancestors. Supreme Court, also leaves much to be desired.

In Octoberin an uncanny parallel to events on the Amistad, American slaves being transported from Virginia to Louisiana on the Creole seized control of the ship, killing some crew members and directing the mate to sail to the Bahamas. Rather than being receptive to abolitionist sentiment, the courts were among the main defenders of slavery. Historians may be guilty of many sins, but ignoring slavery is not one of them.

Supreme Court Rules in Amistad Slave Ship Case

For the past forty years, no subject has received more scholarly attention. If the authors of the study guide really want to promote an understanding of slavery, they should direct students not to this highly flawed film, but to the local library. There they will discover several shelves of books on slavery and slave resistance, from academic tomes to works for children.