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Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives (2003)

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Title: Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives (2003)

Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives (2003) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Nominated for 4 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »




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Sandra Daley ...


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In their words, our shared history.







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January 2003 (USA)  »

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Great piece of work
13 February 2005 | by (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews

This special feature from HBO a couple of years back was one of the best original programs ever done for the network. Worthy of PBS even. Taking the documented words of people who were enslaved in this country and having their comments read to us was a wonderful idea and gave viewers a more true insight for what the life of a slave was often like. It rips to pieces all of those ignorant assumptions over the years that slavery wasn't "all that bad". Only the worst kind of human being with a lack of education, common sense or human dignity could ever think such a thing in the first place. Unfortunately though there are many people out there who fit that category. It was a stroke of genius to pick a handful of well known black celebrities to put a face on the people whose words they were reading. Even better these celebrities, for the most part, were actors who had the ability to convey the emotion and cadence of the language used. It is as if they transport you safely back in time and give you a glimpse of a world that has fortunately passed but unfortunately has been forgotten. And by that I mean that Americans, of all races, simply do not want to deal with the subject much. Glad to see a TV special that tackles the subject honestly and does not sugarcoat the evils of this nation's history. Bravo to everyone involved.

With that out of the way let me also address the clown KompliKated (might as well add the extra "K") and his blatantly ignorant comments on this special. He wrote the same junk on the HBO boards and its annoying he is trying to spread his dis-information to every site he can. You can tell how disingenuous he was by stating at first that he had hoped to come away with some insight on the situation (meaning the history of slavery from those who lived it) but was instantly disappointed. Absurd. I guess he was expecting a program that was more pro-slavery with comments from former slaves who had nothing but praise for the lives they led before they were free. Must have been too many viewings of "Gone With the Wind" that made him think this. Seriously though would anyone watch a special on the Holocaust and expect the words of survivors to suggest that their experiences in death camps to have been a treat and that the Nazis weren't all that bad? Of course not.

KompliKated wrote that the special was only filmed to provoke anger and served no purpose other than to create resentment, blah, blah, blah. No, sir. The purpose was to educate and to give voice to those that suffered from such a sick institution such as slavery. It was a memorial to a chapter in this country's history. People SHOULD be angry over what happened but I don't recall the program suggesting that any black person should go attack any white person because of what occurred back in that time. He called it a racist propaganda that pours salts on open wounds. Laughable. It is racist to recite the words of former slaves in which all they did was relay their own experiences? The documentation of their suffering is propaganda? What ugly hyperbole. The problem with a lot of Americans (specifically white ones) is that they are all about remembering events in America's favor. They will never grow tired of reading and hearing about how American soldiers fought so bravely during WW2 and how the US saved France from Germany. They don't tire of bringing up (in movies, novels, history texts) how the British Empire was unfair to the American colonies which led to the American Revolution. They don't tire of the frequent mention of all the American heroes, all of the American good deeds, all of the positive moments in American history. But when someone has the audacity to point out the flaws and the bad that occurred in America, by the hands of American leaders and citizens, and all of a sudden they can't handle it. They ignore it if at all possible and ask why are the people who are bringing it up still living in the past. Hypocrites. That is why a special like this goes virtually ignored. It reminds people of America's ugly past and slaps them with cold, hard truths. Truths that go against their image of the USA and what it has stood for. That is why Americans don't have any problems not "moving on" when it comes to depicting the Nazi regime in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. But when it comes to depicting a non-romanticized view of American slavery this country closes its eyes, cuffs its ears and hums really loudly to ignore the facts. That's a mark of insecurity.

People like KompliKated are stuck in their ways and can't be reached and frankly its pointless to even bother trying. But for those of you out there who are truly objective and are capable of sitting back and learning something then I would advise you watch this presentation. Its not about whether this program is trying to generate guilt or anger or sadness. Its purpose is simply to foster more understanding on slavery's effect on a people. And it does that splendidly I might add.

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