Monday, January 02, 2006


Wolper Productions
Director: Marvin J Chomsky, et al.
Length: 573 min.
Format: VHS
Date Viewed: 28 December - 2 January

"Roots" is an excellent and fairly comprehensive look at American slavery. Plenty of important history and impressive attention to detail enrich the story of the descendants of Kunta Kinte. The film gets a bit repetitive and drags in the middle, but the first and third parts are quite strong while dealing with the moral implications of buying and selling slaves and how a newly "free" people work to make a new life after the legal fall of slavery. The middle parts also see a few performances that are difficult to sit through for their wild overacting (anyone who watches "Roots" deserves a medal for making it through the scenes with Sandy Duncan), though a bit of over- and underacting is found throughout. Louis Gossett, Jr. and Georg Stanford Brown are standouts in the cast, and Gossett was rightly awarded the Emmy for his performance. Though the interior scenes suffer from terrible 1970s TV lighting and camerawork, "Roots" as a whole generally avoids the problem that all period films from the 70s look like it's the 1970s recreating era x. I will agree with John Amos that this is a film that should be played in schools for our young to see, and it's a good film to accompany the chapter "Slavery Without Submission, Emancipation Without Freedom," from Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" (Perennial Classics).


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