Today’s monologue marks the first time we’ve looked at a scene from a Spielberg movie since our very first one with Robert Shaw’s USS Indianapolis speech from Jaws. This time, we turn our focus to a monologue delivered by another even greater actor, in film that also involves boats… but that’s really the extent of the similarity.
Freedom is a right bound to all men, women and children on Earth, and Amistad seeks to makes this as plain and clear as it can with the story of the Mende slaves. David Franzoni’s script is a work of marvelous texture and depth. It draws on all of the emotive aspects of the story, but couples them with great courtroom drama. The balance between that emotion and legal drama is carried in a multitude of ways by the various characters throughout the film, but the one who captures it and delivers the film’s message with the clear erudition and dignity it so needs is former US President John Quincy Adams, played by Anthony Hopkins.
Also, just as an aside, think of the collected talent standing in that room for this one scene: Anthony Hopkins, Pete Postlethwaite, Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Djimon Hounsou being directed by Steven Spielberg. The number of Oscar wins and nominations in just that group is astounding.
Setting the scene: With the case now going before the US Supreme Court, the defence team know they need help from a knowledgeable and experienced source. Having approached him without success before, they approach John Quincy Adams. After inviting Cinquè to his home and talking with him, Adams finally acquiesces to their request. Now in court, Adams delivers his defence of the accused Mende…