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The Voyage of La Amistad: A Quest for Freedom

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All the elements of a Ken Burns production are here: the period engravings, thoughtful experts, actors reading historical letters and documents in voice-over. Trouble is, Burns didn’t make this grave, earnest documentary. Director-producer H.D. Motyl transforms the gripping tale of a 19th-century shipboard uprising by more than four dozen Africans into a monotonous disquisition that seems designed for high school history class. Even narrator Alfre Woodard sounds disinterested until about halfway through The Voyage of La Amistad: A Quest for Freedom. Its good intentions notwithstanding, this 70-minute film seems to drag on almost as long as the Africans’ three-year ordeal. C

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