Roots

"Excellent"

Roots Review


When you think of epic mini-series, what comes to mind? Rich Man, Poor Man? Shogun? More likely than not, it's Roots, the based-on-a-true story tale that spooled over 12 hours and six nights, the story of "an American family," albeit one that began captured in Africa in 1750, then sold into slavery in the U.S. colonies.

Roots begins with Kunta Kinte, emerging from childhood and undergoing warrior training in his tribal homeland. The slavers arrive soon enough, and after a harrowing three-month ride back across the Atlantic, Kunta is sold, becomes Toby under his new master, attempts repeated escapes, and eventually accepts his fate as he settles down with a wife and child. The Revolutionary War comes and goes, and Toby's daughter Kizzy is sold, becoming the mother of her new master's son, known as Chicken George. Chicken George in turn is sent to England to pay off a gambling debt. When he returns home after 14 years, he is a free man. The Civil War arrives, and the rest of the slaves are freed. Soon enough the family faces the perils of vehement racism and the KKK, and Chicken George finally leads his family to safety in a new settlement.

The entire adventure, which gives us glimpses at (by my count) six generations of characters, spans some 100 years. The unfortunate downside is that some of those 100 years are less thrilling than others. Roots starts to bog down on disc three (of its new six-disc DVD collection), when young Kunta (LeVar Burton) is replaced by old Kunta (John Amos). Amos isn't nearly the actor that Burton is, and combined with an hour of "Kunta hangs at home," the series really starts to flag. The appearance of a terribly grating Sandy Duncan (playing the daughter of a plantation family) is a nuisance through three of the six discs. Other supporting characters are fantastic, though -- notably Ed Asner as the reluctant slave ship captain and Louis Gossett Jr. as the fellow slave who first takes Kunta under his wing. By and large, the production is thrilling and full of emotion -- and genuinely informative (albeit, like all 1970s miniseries, considerably overwrought) about the history of slavery in America.

I'd recommend the DVD collection, which features interesting commentary vignettes from many of the cast members, but it has an unfortunate problem of turning its own subtitles on and off, seemingly at random. Needless to say, this is a nuisance even greater than Sandy Duncan.



Roots

Facts and Figures

Run time: 60 mins

In Theaters: Sunday 23rd January 1977

Production compaines: David L. Wolper Productions, Warner Bros. Television

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 8.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Marvin J. Chomsky, John Erman, David Greene, Gilbert Moses

Producer:

Starring: as Kunta Kinte, as Toby, as Kizzy Reynolds, as "Chicken" George Moore, as Tom Harvey, as Binta, as Capt. Thomas Davies, as Slater, Louis Gossett, Jr. as Fiddler, as John Reynolds, Linda Day George as Mrs. Reynolds, as Dr. William Reynolds, as Missy Anne Reynolds, as Belle Reynolds, as Tom Moore, as Mingo, as Mathilda, as Stephen Bennett, as Sam Bennett, as Evan Brent, as Jemmy Brent, as Ames, as Noah, as Kintango, as Ol' George Johnson, as Omoro, as Nyo Boto, O.J. Simpson as Kadi Touray, as Fanta, as Sen. Arthur Justin, as Ordell, as Bud

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.