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Reviews & Ratings for
"Roots" More at IMDbPro »

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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:

Hard to Stomach.. But great film

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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7 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Roots is not a true story

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. " 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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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:


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

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?


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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Thoughts on ROOTS, 35 years later

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 8 people found the following review useful:


Author: Mrj72188 from St. Louis MO
21 January 2002

I first became interested in Roots when I heard about it on the Disney Channel movie "The Color of Friendship" in 2001. The next time it resurfaced was in Jan. 2002, when Hallmark was going to reair it. Rather than wait (and waste tape) for every night, I bought it on DVD. It is amazing how the crew acheived the dream of Alex Haley's ancestors horrid past, from slave capture to auction, to escape to crippling, to being sold and death. The one thing that shocked me the most was how the KKK was involved in that family's life. When there were funny moments, I laughed and when there were sad moments, I wept. To sum it up: Roots is a masterful miniseries that no family should be without.

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6 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Glad My Mom Made Me Watch It

Author: Erich Young (erichyoung) from USA
3 September 2001

I grew up in the whitest small town in the upper midwest. I had one fellow minority high grad (out of 800) who was chinese but was adopted and named "Anne Palmquist" - that's how white it was. So I grew up without any minority contact.

My mother made me watch Roots back then so I could visualize what I read about...and it had a positive impact on my little world. Of course it was merely a lesson in my parents greater plan, I'm glad it existed and was aired.

I'd like to see it again as an adult.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Powerful..but what's up with that music?!?

Author: David Satterlee (DJS22867@GMail.Com) from Pennsauken, NJ
11 August 2004

My fiancée and I just rented the entire Roots saga on DVD. For both of us it's the first time we've seen it since 1977. We watched it over the period of three days and came away from it moved and intrigued.

I was 10 years old in 1977 but I remember that even then I was hooked on the story, so much so that the following year I tackled the book (one of the best I've ever read.) As an adult, the story and the characters have had an even greater impact on me.

As was the case at the time, the acting is somewhat heavy-handed and the sets are not exactly what I'd consider to be convincing. I'm no botanist but I'd venture to guess that there weren't too many oak trees in Kunta Kinte's village in the late 1700's (or now, for that matter.)

Like any TV adaptation, liberties were taken. Most of them are of minor consequence given the scope and importance of the project as a whole (so quit your grumbling about Chicken George not knowing who is father was!) This is a film that appeals to the viewer's heart more than his/her head and in that respect it succeeds admirably.

I won't bother with a synopsis; if you're reading this most likely already seen the film and are simply looking to see what others thought of it. About all I can say is that this film--this story--moved me and has stayed with me for almost 30 years. How anyone can watch it and come away less-prejudiced is beyond my understanding.

The two things I'd like to comment on are the music and Tom (aka Jesus Christ.) Is it me or did the music seem to be inappropriately cheerful and bouncy at the worst times (i.e. the scene after Kunta's whipping, after Kizzy's rape, etc.) The next time you watch it, listen and see if you agree.

The other annoyance was that of Tom. I liked his character and I think that the actor did a credible job with what he was given but come on...Jesus Christ himself wouldn't have been so wise, patient and forgiving! Seemed a bit too good to be true.

I don't know how much of the book/film was conjecture or outright fiction but, in the end, it worked for me. It worked for me enough that I now intend on digging a bit deeper to see what I can learn about this remarkable family.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Powerful portrait of the injustice and suffering of slavery

Author: roghache from Canada
16 May 2006

This landmark mini series brilliantly captures both the appalling injustice of forcing Africans into bondage and the suffering of these slaves in their unwilling homeland. It's been some years since I watched this series or read Alex Haley's book on which it is based, but its images have remained fresh. I can hardly imagine how intensely moving this depiction must be for African American viewers.

The series chronicles over a 120 year period the history of Haley's own ancestors, with references made to their African origin, both the Revolutionary & Civil Wars, slave uprisings, eventual emancipation, and the despicable KKK. The story begins with an African named Kunte Kinte, who is ruthlessly kidnapped from his native Gambia on the west coast of Africa, sold into slavery, and brought by ship to Virginia where his owner forces a name change to Toby. His daughter, Kizzy, is separated from her father and mother Bell (a cook) when she is sold to another plantation. Kizzy bears a son, Chicken George, after being raped by her white master. George becomes a legendary cock fighter, and is sold to England where he eventually buys his freedom.

LeVar Burton, a favourite from Star Trek's Next Generation, is cast in the compelling role of the young Kunte Kinte. Leslie Uggams portrays Kizzy and Edward Asner the religious slave ship captain tormented by his conscience. Other famous stars include Maya Angelou, Lorne Greene, Ralph Waite, Louis Gossett Jr., Lloyd Bridges, Burl Ives, Ian McShane, and O.J. Simpson.

Whatever flaws may be present, this series surely does a great service for African Americans. Many of European ancestry can trace their heritage back to origins in Europe with little difficulty. Due to lack of records, black Americans generally are not so fortunate in being able to follow their roots back to Africa itself. Thus in Kunte Kinte, they undoubtedly were given a symbolic ancestor to inspire genuine pride in their heritage.

Kunte Kinte provides a powerful portrait of the heinous outrage of abducting peaceful Africans from their native land, transporting them far from home, and enslaving them & their descendants for generations. The images are unforgettable of the proud young African being beaten for refusing to accept his name change. The series also conveys the horrific conditions on slave ships, the degradation of being subjected to invasive scrutiny by potential buyers, the devastating heartache of forced separation from loved ones sold to other plantations, the rape of slave women by some of their white masters, the brutal punishment of runaway slaves, the daily weary work and inhumane disrespect. On a lighter note, I've also remembered all these years the unique broom jumping wedding ceremony!

Truly an educational series, I would definitely recommend it included in classrooms. My own son was shown the series in his sixth grade class. Like Schindler's List and Holocaust films, Roots should be included as required viewing for those of every race. Even apart from that, it is an absolutely engrossing story and a tribute to the hopeful power of the human spirit.

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