Parents' Guide to


By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Intense true story about slavery has graphic violence.

Movie R 1997 155 minutes
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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 16+

Good but inaccurate on language

Good film showing part of the accuracy of the horrors lived by the African people during the transatlantic slave period. To improve accuracy, please use real Portuguese conversations. The people on the film were speaking Spanish despite the fact the film indicates that the actors were speaking Portuguese. This is a Steven Spielberg’s film. I would expect more on these details.
age 14+


i think it is a good film. parents have no cause to worry. their kids can see it.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (5 ):

Adams explains that in court the one with the best story wins; indeed, we hear many stories in the course of this gritty drama as each character tries to explain why his view is the right one. In the first courtroom scene we hear several "stories" about what should happen to the Africans. All those stories assume that the Africans are property; the only question is whose property they are. Interestingly, as "property," they can not be charged with murder or theft. One cannot be both property and capable of forming criminal intent. The only issue before the court is where the Africans will go.

As Baldwin begins to tell Joadson and Tappan his "story" of the case, we see them slowly becoming aware of what had always been obvious to us: The Africans cannot be property. They were free, in which case their actions were not only honorable but heroic, in the same category as America's founding fathers, who gave us our own "story" about who we are as Americans. Despite the attempts of Van Buren to subvert the legal system established only decades before, the essential commitment to freedom is so much a part of the story that, at least in this one brief moment, justice triumphed. Adams, the fourth president, made that his story.

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