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"Roots"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"Roots" More at IMDbPro »

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A story that needed to be told...

Author: Naberrie218 from United States
19 May 2011

I decided to look up Roots recently after remembering that LeVar Burton starred in it. I had heard about it somewhere years ago, as a kid, and knew it was about slavery, but not much else about it. I'm glad I decided to take the time and watch it. It's a story that should be seen by all people, regardless of skin color or background, for it is first and foremost, a human story. That people could treat other human beings the way the slaves were treated is completely appalling.

It is heartbreaking to see an innocent young man taken away from his home and forced to be a slave. It is sickening to see the grim reality of slavery and how people were treated worse than animals because of their skin color. Although many parts of the movie are disturbing, it is necessary that that those things are shown in order to fully understand the extent of what these human beings had to endure. Kunta Kinte is the image of the indomitable human spirit, and has become one of my favorite characters. I admire how he refused to submit and be treated like he was nothing, how he fought to keep his name and heritage though they were all trying to change him.

If you are human, then you will definitely feel immense compassion for the main character, and for all the slaves who had to endure such cruelty from people who called themselves human and civilized. There are many parts of it that will leave you feeling disgusted about how anyone could do such things to human beings.

The actors do a great job of making you love or hate their characters. You will feel repugnance at characters like Slater and Ames, and Edward Asner does a great portrayal of a Captain Davies, commanding a slave ship but at the same time deeply bothered by his own conscience and morality.

Of course, the star is LeVar Burton and he is excellent as Kunta Kinte, bringing all the emotions of his character to life. Through Kunta's eyes, you see the horrors he is forced to endure, you feel his pain, and the endearing innocence of his character makes it all the more heartbreaking. The only thing I did not like about the movie is how they used two very different actors to portray the same character. Especially since John Amos doesn't look, sound, or act like Levar Burton.

I understand that they couldn't believably make a 19 or 20 year old LeVar Burton look like like he was 50, so getting an older actor to play that part was necessary, however, John Amos came into the movie way too soon. In 1776, Kunta is only 26 years old and still a young man. It makes no sense that they got John Amos to play him at that age, it should have definitely been LeVar Burton still portraying Kunta. (And as many people know, in real life, LeVar still looked pretty much the same in his 30s as he did at 19) I also feel that they should have gotten an actor who resembled LeVar a bit more than John Amos did and that he shouldn't have come into the movie until much later, when Kunta was to be portrayed as a graying and middle-aged man, not someone still in his 20s. What they did took away from the continuity of the story and I lost some of that sense of immersion that I'd felt since up till then.

That said, the story itself is a great one, a very tragic and heartbreaking human story that reflects the struggle of all the oppressed people in this world, as well as educates people about the grim and disturbing reality of a part of this nation's history. It also is a reminder that they can never take away who you are as a person, no matter what, and that the strength of the human soul rises above all. Now that I've seen it on screen, I'm definitely going to read the book, which will undoubtedly have more details than can be shown on screen and enrich the story even more.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

a masterpiece

Author: funexpert from jax, fla
13 February 2002

I just watched the ist two episodes on dvd. and I'm speechless. get this movie and bring friends. It brings so much to the table other than slavery. It spoke volumes to me. Levar Burton is a revelation and it surprises me that he isn't doing more movies. He reminded me of those silent film stars who show with their eyes.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Thoughts on ROOTS, 35 years later

5/10
Author: curmed52 from United States
22 December 2012

I saw ROOTS when it was first broadcast in 1977 and found it interesting but simplistic - noble blacks, evil whites. Given that my family was avoiding pogroms in Eastern Europe during the 100 years covered by this story, I did not come away with the intended guilt trip.

I saw it again this weekend on BET and had a different view of it behind older eyes. First, I want to know why BET advertises chocolate cereal to a largely black viewership? Black children eat badly enough without chocolate in the morning. I now know that this story was not real but rather plagiarized from a fictional book. It is one of many accounts of black history published or broadcast over the past 35 years that are exaggerations or out and out lies aimed at making blacks feel good about themselves, and I wonder why the mostly white writers of these fictions have the need to distort history for this one people.

But the story is interesting if the now usual good blacks/bad whites scenarios. Actually, there were probably more good slave owners than slaves. Indeed, like most of us, white slave owners back then had families and businesses to worry about and little time and inclination to beat slaves. And the slaves were good, bad and everything in between, not the saints that ROOTS portrayed.

White guilt is now long over, so one can watch ROOTS as one would CSI or any other fictional TV show.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Hard to Stomach.. But great film

10/10
Author: harperdk
20 May 2002

Wow... It is hard to believe that people would actually treat other humans in this manner. I find it hard to watch the film.. I found myself turning it off... reflecting and then returning to the film. I hope this is a wake-up call to all people to understand that prejudice needs to stop. At all costs! What a price that has been paid for freedom!

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6 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Roots is not a true story

5/10
Author: NiceGuyJTK from United States
6 February 2010

Roots was a good movie but was stolen from another book. To top it off, it was stolen from a fictional book. I cant believe most people don't know of this. I guess we can thank the media.

"Haley, Alex (1977) , Pulitzer Prize winning author of Roots. Plagiarism. He settled a lawsuit for $650,000, admitting that large passages of Roots were copied from the book The African by Harold Courlander. "http://mediamythbusters.com/index.php? title=Plagiarism#Alex_Haley_-_Roots_.281977.29

America's love affair with Roots, the most revered miniseries of all "time, allowed Haley to emerge unscathed when writer Harold Courlander sued him for plagiarism of his novel The African. (Haley paid him $650,000 in 1978.) Will Nobile's smoking gun revive the historians' case against Haley's integrity? The Pulitzer Prize committee currently is considering Nobile's brief to rescind Haley's 1977 prize. The controversy may also cast a shadow on the book version of Queen, due from Morrow this May." -Tim Appelo

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7 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Remember this is a work of fiction

6/10
Author: Royalcourtier from Auckland, New Zealand
26 December 2009

Too many people still believe that Roots is the true story of Alex Haley's ancestors. It is their story, all right, but almost entirely a work of fiction.

Mr Haley's claims to have spent 20 years under-covering his family history were quickly found to be false. The book (even Haley admitted it was a novel, and "largely" fiction) is a work of the imagination, not history. And not even his own imagination. It was freely plagiarized - whole pages intact -from the work of Harold Courlander - who incidentally wasn't an African-American.

Roots is compelling TV, but like Frankenstein or The Shawshank Redemption, it is a work of fiction, and a mistake to read too much into it.

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15 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Alex Haley's tale is a FRAUD, please understand that it is entirely fictional

1/10
Author: thepigeonfarm from United States
23 September 2006

I would have no problem with this movie and book if it word told as a fictional story. what disgusts me is that Alex Haley wrote this as an "Accurate tale of his family history" or his "roots." the problem is that in his "true account" Haley plagiarized from a FICTIONAL author. This author was a Caucasian who enjoyed traveling, and in his travels found a deep love for folklore. In particular he discovered an interest in African folklore, and spent several years going to villages and collecting very intriguing tales from different people in different African tribes. A very noble endeavor in the realm of fiction. But Haley's plagiarism is much worse than a petty crime, it shows the falsity of his book. I'm not talking sentences, I'm talking entire paragraphs, entire childhood accounts. If you want to watch this as fiction go ahead, but please do not watch this as a history lesson, because it's simply not.

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21 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Nothing but a total fake! - THE CELEBRATED 'ROOTS' OF A LIE

1/10
Author: giftgas from United States
15 April 2007

Taken from http://www.martinlutherking.org/roots.html

January 16, 2002 -- ON Friday, NBC will air a special commemorating the 25th anniversary of the landmark miniseries based on Alex Haley's book "Roots." Ironically, the original series aired on ABC - but officials at that network took a pass on broadcasting the tribute.

What's truly amazing, however, is that "Roots" is receiving a reverential tribute at all. For while the miniseries was a remarkable - and important - piece of television, the book on which it was based has now been widely exposed as a historical hoax.

Unfortunately, the general public is largely unaware of how Haley's monumental family autobiography, stretching back to 18th-century Africa, has been discredited.

Indeed, a 1997 BBC documentary expose of Haley's work has been banned by U.S. television networks - especially PBS, which would normally welcome such a program.

Coincidentally, the "Roots" anniversary comes amid the growing scandal over disclosures of historian Stephen Ambrose's multiple incidents of plagiarism. Because as Haley himself was forced to acknowledge, a large section of his book - including the plot, main character and scores of whole passages - was lifted from "The African," a 1967 novel by white author Hal Courlander.

But plagiarism is the least of the problems in "Roots." And they would likely have remained largely unknown, had journalist Philip Nobile not undertaken a remarkable study of Haley's private papers shortly before they were auctioned off.

The result was featured in a devastating 1993 cover piece in the Village Voice. It confirmed - from Haley's own notes - earlier claims that the alleged history of the book was a near-total invention.

"Virtually every genealogical claim in Haley's story was false," Nobile has written. None of Haley's early writing contains any reference to his mythic ancestor, "the African" named Kunta Kinte. Indeed, Haley's later notes give his family name as "Kante," not "Kinte."

And a long-suppressed tape of the famous session in which Haley " found" Kunta Kinte through the recitation of an African "griot" proves that, as BBC producer James Kent noted, "the villagers (were) threatened by members of Haley's party. These turn out to be senior government officials desperate to ensure that things go smoothly."

Haley, added Kent, "specifically asks for a story that will fit his predetermined American narrative."

Historical experts who checked Haley's genealogical research discovered that, as one put it, "Haley got everything wrong in his pre-Civil War lineage and none of his plantation ancestors existed; 182 pages have no basis in fact."

Given this damning evidence, you'd think Haley's halo would long ago have vanished. But - given this week's TV tribute - he remains a literary icon. Publicly, at least.

The judge who presided over Haley's plagiarism case admitted that "I did not want to destroy him" and so allowed him to settle quietly - even though, he acknowledged, Haley had repeatedly perjured himself in court.

The Pulitzer Prize board has refused to reconsider Haley's prize, awarded in 1977 - in what former Columbia President William McGill, then a board member, has acknowledged was an example of "inverse racism" by a bunch of white liberals "embarrassed by our makeup."

Yet the uniqueness of "Roots" is that it was presented as factual history, albeit with fictional embellishments. Haley himself stressed that the details came from his family's oral history and had been corroborated by outside documents.

But Professor Henry Louis Gates of Harvard, a Haley friend, concedes that it's time to "speak candidly," adding that "most of us feel it's highly unlikely that Alex actually found the village from whence his ancestors came.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

powerful

Author: vixen-17 from Miami, Fl
13 August 2000



I only know how to summarize this series in one word...powerful. I saw it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it literally took my breath away. The issue of slavery has always upset me quite a great deal and this movie only made me so angry that I couldn't do anything while it was happening.The series is done so well I don't even know if I can critique.All I have to say is go watch it if you haven't seen it yet.It's beyond incredible.It displays the cruelty which was deemed acceptable in those times and the struggle of the central characters.If a movie has never made you cry before,it will this time.The acting is superb and it will quickly make you forget that you're watching a product of tv execs.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Not even close to being as good as the book

5/10
Author: matt-reed from Chicago, United States
3 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I enjoyed the book so much I read it twice. It captivated, it entertained, it made me cry, it made me proud, it was a fantastic book.

So when I saw the video in my local video store I eagerly snatched it from the shelf and ran home to watch the people I had come to feel I knew so well.

Boy was I disappointed! Perhaps if I had not read the book I would have felt different, but this mini-series was just so watered down. "Master Waller" is not even present, new characters are invented (who is Fanta?), The ship captain was turned into a sympathetic person. The violent things that happened to Kunta are greatly diminished.

To be honest, I have so far only watched the first two episodes, but I am so disappointed that I may not even finish the series. I am wondering if his foot is ever even cut in half?

-Matt

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