Amistad (1997)

5 corrected entries

(0 votes)

Corrected entry: The central character, the enslaved Cinque, was not seized in Africa and then immediately exported to Cuba out of the slave depot at Lomboko. Cinque was enslaved a few years earlier by black Africans (a common practice) and eventually sold to slave traders.

Correction: Even if this is correct (online biographies seem to disagree), Cinque's past history is only shown in short cuts and small portions during a flashback. The film makers merely chose to omit the parts that had no bearing on the story of the Amistad uprising, including Cinque's time in captivity while still in Africa.


Corrected entry: When the prosecution is questioning the British naval officer there is an orange, dusk coloured sky behind him, showing through the window. But when Cinque stands up it is broad daylight.

Correction: The shots that show the courtroom in orange light is seen through the eyes of Cinque, and is done deliberately to show how strange, confusing and scary the whole experience is to him. In addition to the light, voices occasionally fade away and rapid cuts are made between characters, with intermittent close-ups of Cinque's eyes and the sweat pouring down his brow. When he stands up to plea for freedom, the film goes back to showing the court room as it really is, in normal daylight.


Corrected entry: At the end when the ships blow up the fort, the fort they are blowing up is the "Fuerte San Felipe del Morro" which is in Puerto Rico, not Cuba.

Correction: The ships are blowing up the slave depot at Lomboko, which is in present day Sierra Leone.


Corrected entry: All through the movie they use a present day American flag, the problem was the movie is set in the early 1800's, so it should have fewer stars.

Correction: While they do use the wrong flag, it's not a present day flag. It should have 20 stars, not thirteen.


Corrected entry: During the scene with John Quincy Adams at the Capitol Building, there is a dome on the capitol. The movie takes place in 1839, but the dome wasn't completed until 1863.

Correction: The Capitol building had a dome before the 1860s only it was smaller. The film is quite accurate in showing this dome as smaller than the present one.


Factual error: The Portuguese slave ship Tecora was one of the most notorious of the illegal slave ships, but no slaves were thrown overboard in mid-ocean as shown in the film - at least on the trip in question. The Portuguese were pros at the slave trade and had plenty of food on board to feed their "cargo" between Sierra Leone and Cuba. The only time a slave would be thrown overboard in mid-ocean was if his/her health posed a serious risk to the crew and "cargo". (Slaves were too valuable to just throw away for the price of their food.) Historically, though, there were instances where whole cargoes of slaves were tossed overboard. The British Royal Navy zealously patrolled the waters off West Africa to try to shut down the slave trade. If a British ship was sighted, the slavers sometimes tossed slaves overboard to destroy the evidence and prevent the seizure of the ship.

More mistakes in Amistad

Theodore Joadson: There remains one task undone. One vital task the Founding Father's left to their sons.
John Quincy Adams: Yeah?
Theodore Joadson: ...before their thirteen colonies could precisely be called United States. And that task, Sir, as you well know, is crushing slavery.

More quotes from Amistad

Question: In the last scene of the film the ship appeared to me to be sailing in a westerly direction (sun sets in the west). Wouldn't the ship need to go east from USA to sail to Sierra Leone?


Chosen answer: It's likely that the scene was set in the morning, meaning they would be going east.

Greg Dwyer
More questions & answers from Amistad

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