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"Roots" More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 6 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 8 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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4 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Historically Inaccurate depiction of slavery

Author: Casey Reeves from Chicago, Illinois
13 May 2014

Let me start off by saying I don't hate this series. In fact, it is actually quite good. The problem is Roots has become somewhat of a black culture idealization of what slavery was like, and it is not even historically accurate.

In the 18th century, the West African slave trade was a seasoned machine, and other than the Portuguese, "white men" rarely set foot on the continent for more than a few weeks, as they lacked the immunities to fight off many of the diseases that were prevalent in the region. As such, the slave trade was really conducted at the auction block, after the slaves were captured. "White men" didn't often go and capture their slaves themselves, they bought them from tribesman and other more prominent African slave traders. The concept of owning slaves has existed well before the invention of the boat, so until the invention of the boat and then the pressures from the Catholic church and other churches to stop enslaving its own people, slavery was a way of life that rarely migrated beyond the immediate reaches of that particular countries borders.

It is only in recent centuries that slavery crossed oceans, a time when everybody was purchasing slaves. Half the population of Ireland was wiped out, lots of poor European countries were wiped out, the Philippines even up until the early 1900's, West Africa, East Africa, China, Russia, etc. There is obviously an agenda with Roots as the writer has personal feelings of animosity however I feel the historical inaccuracy for the beginning of this mini-series seriously hurts the amount of respect I can give to the show as a whole.

Like I said its good if you are looking at it as a fictional show and nothing more, but if you ever use Roots to combat someone who actually knows history, you will lose every time.

Roots trivializes the slave trade for the black community and creates a slanted view at the atrocities that existed far before a black man was ever enslaved.

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7 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Grossly overrated

Author: James J. Matthews ( from Toronto, Canada
12 February 2000

The story of Alex Haley's ancestors is a powerful one, and he turned it into a very fine (if partly plagiarized) book. The 1977 miniseries, on the other hand, is an example of television's "dumbing down" process. It's relentlessly obvious, cheesy and cliched. The writing is dishonest when not just inept. Scene after scene is played to the rafters. African-Americans in particular deserved better.

You want specifics? Chicken George (Ben Vereen) was born after his mother was raped by his master. In the book he's aware from childhood that their master is also his father, which is exactly what you'd expect. Here, however, we're asked to believe that this is a Big Secret he doesn't know because his mother didn't tell him. (Does he think it was a virgin birth?) That's so she can finally tell him when he's grown up with children of his own, and give the episode a cheap emotional climax. This is a familiar TV cliche.

The conclusion is particularly laughable. Formula requires "empowerment," so they have an unbelievable scene where the ex-slaves tie the Evil Klansman to a tree before leaving town. First they point a gun at him, then his henchmen come out and get the drop on them, then other blacks get the drop on the henchmen. (This happened on GET SMART once, but the laughs were intentional there.)

True, there are fine performances by actors like Louis Gossett and Vereen, but the white cast is mostly at sea. (As the slave ship's Ineffectual Christian Liberal Conscience, the normally able Edward Asner gives one of the 10 worst performances in TV history.) As for production values, ABC spent more on ROOTS than on any past TV movie, but you'd never know it: it looks very cheap.

In sum, the miniseries ROOTS (like the miniseries HOLOCAUST) was "politically correct" before we knew the term.

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1 out of 5 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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3 out of 9 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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4 out of 11 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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0 out of 4 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 6 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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1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding Mini Series

Author: jnkaul ( from Allentown PA
28 April 2000

I have the complete series on tape and yet I watch it everytime it airs, Roots is a must see for everyone who is interested in history and geneology. The series really opened my eyes into a whole new perspective of the plight and the fight for the black men and women to know and win their God given freedom. To witness the love and life shared between Omoro and Binte, who's sole purpose was to raise and nurture their children was heart warming, then to watch it taken away was heart wrenching. The story eventually follows 200 yrs. of the decendants of this family who's strong will and striving finally brings them to Justice and Freedom. Do Watch!!!!!!!

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