Roots: Thirty Years and Counting

May 24, 2007 at 4:04 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSince its inception into main stream society, television and the images it propagates has more than often been the Achilles heel of Black evolution. When ABC first released the epic miniseries, Roots, the history of slaves far from forgotten was depicted with such candor that even by today’s standards it would likely stir some controversy. The producers and writers alike took great leaps and bounds, huge chances in illustrating a history marred by great injustices. To achieve that effect, the series employed colorful language (repeated Use of N-word), showed violent scenes, and wonderfully developed characters to fuel the authenticity of the feature.

            Based on Alex Haley’s book detailing his family ancestry, Roots is essentially a story about generations of a family. It chronicles the history of this family from the brutal times of slavery in the 1700’s to the uncertain yet promising periods of reconstruction. Apart from its sincerity and authenticity, this 11-hour feature excels in its casting and character development. The production enlisted the likes of LeVar Burton, whose portrayal of a young Kunta Kinte was brilliant; it also featured stellar acting by Louis Gossett Jr., John Amos, OJ Simpson and Maya Angelou amongst others. What was particularly astounding about the casting was the amount of black actors that were brought to the forefront of the screen; despite the success of the series several of these actors were not presented with adequate film or television roles. Characters like the slave ship captain, played by Ed Asner reveal a character who struggles with the validation of slavery.

            To commemorate the 30th year anniversary of its initial release, Roots will be released on the 22nd of May, by Warner Bros. Apart from the main feature; the 4 disc DVD set contains commentaries, and commentary video highlights-on camera interviews as well as an intriguing special feature, Crossing Over: How Roots Captivated an Entire Nation. Furthermore, it includes artwork that reveals Alex Haley’s family ancestry in a family tree.

            Without a doubt, the roots saga will continue to captivate audiences of generations to come.  Not only does it offer the history of Blacks of this nation incorporated with Haley’s family lineage, it is also suggestive of the power and significance of one’s name. It offers several life lessons, and acts as reminder of how far African Americans have come and the journey that lies ahead.


Written by:

Bola “Eldorado Red” Alex-Oni


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