'Roots' was a television mini-series from the late 1970s focusing on the struggles and travails of an African named Kunta Kinte, forcibly transported from his West African home to the Americas. A historical epic set in the mid-18th Century, the original novel on which the series is based was written by Alex Haley, and is an apparent retelling of the story of, in Kinte, his direct ancestor. This article will give you a deep insight into the movie.
The 'Roots' mini-series revolves around the adventures of an African named Kunta Kinte, who is captured by slaves as a teenager and taken to America, where he undergoes mental torture, humiliation and even mutilation as a slave. The series consisted of seven episodes which then followed Kinte's American family through the turbulent years of America's birth, right through to the late 19th century. The show was watched by an estimated 100 million people in America at its peak.
The main character of the show is, of course, Kunta Kinte, played by Levar Burton, who later went on to feature prominently as Jordi in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'.
Kinte is the son of a Muslim Mandinka warrior named Omoro Kinte. At the age of 15, he is captured by slave traders while on the cusp of undertaking a Mandinka warrior coming-of-age ceremony, and taken from Gambia to Maryland, where he is sold to a plantation owner and is given the name Toby. The adult Toby is played by John Amos. Louis Gosset, Jnr. plays an older African slave already at the Maryland plantation, named Fiddler, who is given the task of training 'Toby' to be a chattel slave, and also to teach him English. O.J. Simpson had a role as Kadi Touray, while Madge Sinclair played Toby's wife Belle, with Leslie Uggams featuring as his daughter Kizzy. The last few minutes of the Roots film were narrated over by writer Alex Haley, with images of his real ancestors, who are descended from the characters in the stories, filling the screen.
There were a number of sequels to the original 'Roots' TV series. 'Roots: The Next Generation' was broadcasted in 1979, while there was also a one-off show entitled 'Roots: The Gift', which aired as a Christmas movie. The latter does not enjoy a particularly high reputation amongst fans of the show despite the presence of some of the original cast members. Those who want to own 'Roots' the mini series on DVD have two choices. The series was issued in a special 25th anniversary box set edition in 2002, with another reissue of 'Roots' on DVD occurring on the series' 30th anniversary in 2007.