Roots (2016) – ***(*)

Posted: November 7, 2017 in 2016, Drama, Historical, Slavery, USA, XXX1/2

Back in 1977 a television series was ground breaking (and successful) telling the story of the descendants of a captured young African warrior who was shipped from The Gambia to the United States and sold as a slave. His name was Kunta Kinte and his struggle and legacy is still known and popular in American pop culture. Just think of the hit single of Kendrick Lamar (‘King Kunta’). But the 1977 show looks a bit old fashioned for young kids and so a remake was produced, shown last year to critical acclaim.

It’s a powerful story, stretching over several generation. From 1750 before the American Revolution to the end of the Civil War in 1865. It’s not just the story of Kunta Kinta, but also of his daughter Kizzy, his grandson Chicken George and grand-grandson Tom.

Compared to the original series (seen four years ago), this remake is much shorter. It has more action. The acting is better. The setting is more professional. It’s visually a much better series. It’s what you can expect from a big budget tv series these days. Even though the story is based on a fictitious character, the events are depicted in a neutral, historically correct way. (Alt-Right Neo Nazis may disagree of course). Compared to the first series, the ‘white characters’ are better developed. There’s even a good white character this time. Hooray!

This is and excellent series for those who aren’t too familiar with the early history of the African American community. An absolute must. But it’s also worth watching for those who have seen the original show. The acting is truly much better. That Malachi Kirby is phenomenal as Kunta Kinta. But Regé-Jean Page as Chicken George is also quite exceptional. Jonathan Rhys Meyers kills it in all of his scenes. He’s a delight. Even though he’s the mean white slave owner.

The creators had to cut a lot of stories to fit in just four episodes. That’s a bit sad. Because there is much more to tell. The decision to skip several decades from time to time was necessary and it works. But you want to learn so much more.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3315386

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