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Based on Alex Haley's best-selling novel about his African ancestors, Roots followed several generations in the lives of a slave family. The saga began with Kunta Kinte LeVar Burton, a West African youth captured by slave raiders and shipped to America in the 1700s. The family's saga is depicted up until the Civil War where Kunte Kinte's grandson gained emancipation. Roots made its greatest impression on the ratings and widespread popularity it garnered. On average, 130 million - almost half the country at the time - saw all or part of the series.
DVD Features: Audio Commentary Documentaries Electronic press kit Featurette Interviews
From the moment the young Kunta Kinte LeVar Burton is stolen from his life and ancestral home in 18th-century Africa and brought under inhumane conditions to be auctioned as a slave in America, a line is begun that leads from this most shameful chapter in U.S. history to the 20th-century author Alex Haley, a Kinte descendant. The late Haley's acclaimed book Roots was adapted into this six-volume television miniseries, which was a widely watched phenomenon in 1977. The programs cover several generations in the antebellum South and end with the story of "Chicken" George, a freed slave played by Ben Vereen whose family feels the agony of entrenched racism and learns to fight it. Between the lives of Kunta and George, we meet a number of memorable characters, black and white, and learn much about the emotional and physical torments of slavery, from beatings and rapes to the forced separation of spouses and families. Nothing like this had ever confronted so many mainstream Americans when the series was originally broadcast, and the extent to which the country was nudged a degree or two toward enlightenment was instantly obvious. Roots still has that ability to open one's eyes, and engage an audience in a sweeping, memorable drama at the same time. --Tom Keogh