It's tough to find uplifting things when it comes to the subject of slavery, as enslaving other human beings is such an awful, dark thing that trying to be positive about it can be taken the wrong way. However, many filmmakers have tackled slavery stories at a number of different times in history and have presented something that ultimately beat back the evil of the slavery institution: hope. Check out five uplifting movies about slavery, listed below.
Spielberg directs this court room drama that takes place in early colonial America about a slave uprising on a ship. Not only is there an incredible cast, but the story is uplifting when the slaves who rose up are given their freedom. Sure, it comes after hours of long boat rides and utter disregard for humanity. But like the saying goes, "good things come to he who waits." Few films about slavery have every been made with this type of budget and this caliber of Hollywood cast, making "Amistad" very unique in its size and scope.
An eight-night phenomenon in the late '70s, "Roots" was originally a mini-series movie about a man's introduction into slavery through his liberation at the end of the Civil War. It is generally considered the greatest piece of cinema ever made about slavery, covering all aspects of it for a general audience. This series of films is so good it is still taught in history classes around the United States. When it came out in the 1970s, it was so widely seen that it acted as a wake-up call to Americans, helping to advance stagnant race relations.
This is a Civil War movie about a battalion of black, ex-slave soldiers who fought for the Union army against the southern confederates. Seeing these men come to grips with being soldiers and working together with white men as free men is one of the more uplifting movies about slavery ever made, even though it has a violent, tragic ending. With a cast of Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick, and Morgan Freeman, there are few Civil War movies that are better.
Slaves have been of all race and creed throughout history, and the Academy Award-winning Hollywood blockbuster "Gladiator" delves into this by thrusting our main character into slavery and then forcing him to rise up to bring down the emperor. It is uplifting only because the hero wins and we are rooting for him all the way, not because anything like this would ever happen in ancient Rome. Even the hero's victory itself is bittersweet, given his tragic end. Still, the emperor falls, and Rome is returned to its people. Ridley Scott is also directing, spinning cinematic gold, as usual.
Kubrick made this adaptation of the true story of Spartacus, who led a slave revolt in ancient Rome and almost won. Not only is it a classic story and a well-made film, but it shows how someone on the lowest end of the social ladder can be a leader and help those who are oppressed to rise up. While there have been many versions of "Spartacus" made since, this one is still considered to be the best version of a man rising up against the oppression of slavery.