Its not just a movie review, but its explain how the producers (and the managements) of Roots, History Channel TV Mini Series rebrand (remake) review: ‘a stunning and powerful remake movie’. The campaign point is wants to amplify the voices of the victims of modern-day slavery, highlight success stories and help unravel the tangle of criminal enterprises trading in human life, as CNN Freedom Project campaign. Buy Out Slavery is a campaign that spreads awareness about modern day slavery. To help in our movement, we’ve collaborated with The CNN Freedom Project and Not For Sale, an organizations that provides enslaved laborers and at-risk communities with safety and stability, education and economic opportunities.
Roots Official Video Teaser Courtesy History Channel
What They Said about the Roots Episode?
History’s engaging new ‘Roots’ is faithful to the original and woke to the present – Hank Stuever, Washington Post
You could remake “Roots” every 10 years or so and end up with a different context each time. The original 1977 miniseries, which spanned eight nights on ABC and captivated something like 130 million TV watchers, pushed hard outside our cultural comfort zones, reaching so deep that even I remember thoughtful classroom discussions of “Roots” in just about the whitest childhood a kid could have.
“Roots” was a powerful encounter for all who watched it or even sensed it in the air; it was a watershed moment for the ways our country, fresh off the Founding Fathers hoopla of the bicentennial, began to see the shame of slavery as a multi-generational narrative and how its effects were still very much with us, part of what Condoleezza Rice once smartly termed the nation’s “birth defect.”
If someone had remade “Roots” in the 1990s, its meaning might have ricocheted off the Rodney King beating, the O.J. Simpson trial, gang violence and the rise of hip-hop. Wait another 10 years and a remake might have dovetailed with the dawning logic of paying reparations to Americans who trace their ancestry to slaves. Wait another few years, and the election of Barack Obama as president could have served as suitable background to the triumph and resilience contained in Alex Haley’s original book.
As it happens, almost 40 years have elapsed since the first “Roots,” and a lot has (and hasn’t) changed. Arriving with 21st-century production values and an urgent sense of momentum that trims a few hours off the total time investment, History’s four-night “reimagination” of “Roots” (airing Monday through Thursday) is an absorbing if only occasionally superior update.
This version is faithful to the original, with subtle and necessary shifts in context for contemporary audiences. This is a “Roots” that has studied the powerful effects of magical realism on fact-based fiction, especially in its yearning to represent a cultural authenticity. This is also a “Roots” that has clearly been to the movies, knowing full well it can hardly match the cruelties of “12 Years a Slave” or the cathartic fantasies of “Django Unchained.”
And, yes, this is a “Roots” that is to a certain degree “woke” (to borrow from current parlance) to recent setbacks in race relations. But don’t get too grand an idea about either its artistry or its potential impact; this is a TV miniseries, not “Lemonade.”
It all still begins in the 1750s in the West Africa town of Juffure, Gambia, with Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby), whose ritual ascension to manhood is tragically interrupted when he is kidnapped by African traffickers, who deliver him to a slave-trading operation. Kunta and others are chained and crammed into a ship for an arduous Atlantic crossing — and it’s here where viewers will get a clear sense of how far this “Roots” is willing go in depicting man’s inhumanity to man.
Answer: far enough that a viewer will be disgusted and moved, but probably not so far as to cause sleepless nights for mature viewers. Violent acts (whippings, mutilations, rapes, murder) are an important component to this story; there is a scene in Part 1 in which Kunta’s plantation overseer flogs him until he utters the name given to him by his master: Toby. It was a powerful, heart-wrenching moment in 1977, when LeVar Burton played the role, but a side-by-side comparison of the scene then and now provides a somewhat startling example of how much we’ve turned up the volume on TV brutality — and proof that it can enhance the story.
That’s not to say that we do everything better nowadays. Wandering among clips and scenes from the original miniseries, I was struck by how much more time and talk it contained, which gave it a sense of patience and scope. In the original, conversations lasted minutes to allow for nuance and connection — as when Madge Sinclair, playing Kunta’s wife, Belle, described her first husband’s escape attempt and murder and the selling of her children. In the new version, Belle (Emayatzy Corinealdi) barely gets time to mention it in passing.
By its second night, it becomes clear that the new “Roots” prizes momentum and efficiency above almost everything else — it’s a “Roots” for a world in a big hurry, the CliffsNotes version. The essential plot is intact: As Kunta/Toby, Kirby is a terrific leading man, ably carrying the first two nights with help from Corinealdi and Forest Whitaker as Fiddler (a role originated by Louis Gossett Jr.). After having his foot amputated for trying to escape, Kunta marries Belle and focuses on an Africa of the mind, imparting his culture and spirituality to his only child, a daughter named Kizzy, who is secretly taught to read. Caught forging a document, Kizzy is cruelly sold off and never sees her parents again.
Anika Noni Rose steps in on the third night as an adult Kizzy. Although it is true that this “Roots” is more attuned to its female characters (and the women all deliver fine performances each night), it could have gone further in this regard. Haley’s book, first presented as a work of research, prompted accusations of plagiarism (a lawsuit was settled out of court) and couldn’t withstand critical scrutiny from other historians. Now that the book has quietly tiptoed from nonfiction to fiction, nothing prevents this “Roots” from taking whatever liberties make sense — I would have been happy to see the epic become a feminist paean to Kizzy and her daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters.
But that would mean no Chicken George, Kunta Kinte’s grandson, played in 1977 by Ben Vereen and here given a new spin by Regé-Jean Page. George’s father is Kizzy’s master, Tom Lea (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), an arbitrarily mean plantation owner with a ruinous gambling addiction, who sees that young George has a talent for raising and training roosters to win cockfights. Hence the nickname, which plays on Chicken George’s knack for showmanship — the black man who performs for white favor.
It takes betrayal, a couple of decades in London, the Civil War and a daunting number of commercial breaks in Part 4 for Chicken George to rediscover his inner Kunta Kinte and pass the knowledge to his own children and grandchildren. The new “Roots” is correct in gauging that the saga can be told without supplying much sympathetic shading for its white characters. Rhys Meyers, curiously, gets far more screen time than his hammy take on Master Tom deserves, while others could use a touch more depth, such as Anna Paquin’s very brief turn as an abolitionist spy who poses as an antebellum lady.
“Roots” ends where its predecessor did, with the North’s victory over the South and suddenly freed slaves wondering what comes next. (It took a sequel miniseries, in 1979, to finish out the chapters in Haley’s book about the 19th and 20th centuries, which is also possible here.)
The new “Roots” fulfills its primary obligation to be a compelling saga, doing what it can to reflect what the past 40 years have meant to our collective understanding of black history. It also has less burden of social responsibility heaped upon it than its predecessor had. And, if someone were to remake “Roots” in another 10 or 20 or 30 years, I hope and expect it will continue to feel more creative, unpredictable and free.
Story Plots (remake)
Roots tells the story of Kunta Kinte — a young man taken from the Gambia when he was seventeen and sold as a slave — and seven generations of his descendants in the United States. Kunta has a typically difficult but free childhood in his village, Juffure. His village subsists on farming, and sometimes they do not have enough food, as the climate is harsh. Yet Kunta is surrounded by love and traditions. Ominously, the village had heard of the recent arrival of toubob, men with white skins who smell like wet chickens.
One morning when Kunta is cutting wood to make a drum, he is captured by several toubob slave-traders. After a nightmarish journey across the Atlantic on board the British slave ship Lord Ligonier, he is landed in Annapolis in the British colony of Maryland. John Waller of Spotsylvania County, Virginia purchases Kunta at auction and gives him the name Toby. However, Kunta is headstrong and tries to run away four times. When he is captured for the last time, slave hunters cut off part of his right foot to cripple him.
Kunta is then bought by his master’s brother, Dr. William Waller. He becomes a gardener and eventually his master’s buggy driver. He marries Bell, Waller’s cook, and together they have a daughter, Kizzy. Kizzy’s childhood as a slave is as happy as her parents can make it. She is close friends with John Waller’s daughter “Missy” Anne, and she rarely experiences cruelty. Yet her life changes when she forges a traveling pass for her beau Noah, a field hand. When he is caught and confesses, she is sold away from her family at the age of sixteen.
Kizzy is bought by Tom Lea, a farmer and chicken fighter who rose from poor beginnings. He rapes and impregnates her, and she gives birth to George, who later becomes known as “Chicken George” when he becomes his father’s cockfighting trainer. Chicken George is a philanderer known for expensive taste and alcohol, as much as for his iconic bowler hat and green scarf. He marries Matilda and they have six sons and two daughters, including Tom, who becomes a very good blacksmith. Tom marries Irene, a woman originally owned by the Holt family.
When Tom Lea loses all his money in a cockfight, he sends George to England for several years to pay off the debt, and he sells most of the rest of the family to a slave trader. The trader moves the family to Alamance County, where they become the property of the Murrays. The Murrays have no previous experience with farming are generally kind masters who treat the family well. When the American Civil War ends, however, the Murray slaves decide that rather than sharecrop for their former masters, they will move from North Carolina to Henning, Tennessee, which is looking for new settlers.
They eventually become a prosperous family. Tom’s daughter Cynthia marries Will Palmer, a successful lumber businessman, and their daughter Bertha is the first in the family to go to college. There she meets Simon Haley, who becomes a professor of agriculture. Their son is Alex Haley, the author of the book.
Roots, episode 1, review: ‘Brit actor Malachi Kirby is astonishing in this powerful remake’
The first episode in the four-night, eight-hour 2016 iteration of Roots is both a horror film and an action movie. Its opening half-hour is devoted to establishing the life and relationships of Kunta Kinte (British actor Malachi Kirby) and then ripping him away from his home and family in Juffere, West Africa.
Shackled in the disease-ridden hold of a slave ship operated by English traders, Kunta Kinte stays silent and defiant.
He leads the other slaves in an aborted coup of the ship and, when purchased by Virginian tobacco baron John Waller (James Purefoy: the sitcom dads of the Seventies have been replaced by sneering Brits such as Purefoy, Matthew Goode and Jonathan Rhys Meyers), he wastes no time attempting to flee the farm of the man who owns him “just like hogs and horses”.
Forest Whitaker is sympathetic as Fiddler, the foppish slave who has the semi-trust of the Waller family, but this first episode rests solely on the shoulders of Kirby and let’s just say that when hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar wrote King Kunta, he was unknowingly writing a tribute to this actor’s towering performance.
The producers of the Roots remake set themselves a daunting task. As brutal and compelling as their series is, it will always be in the shadow of the original.
There will always be those who question why it even needs to exist. “They just want to keep showing the abuse that we took hundreds and hundreds of years ago,” griped Snoop Dogg on Instagram yesterday.
But whether you’re a proponent or a critic of the new Roots, it’s unlikely you’ll quickly shake the image of Malachi Kirby’s burning rage-filled eyes.