His name was Kunta Kinte. Kidnapped from Africa enslaved in America in 1767 he refused to accept his slave name Toby. Heirs kept his heroic defiance alive passing on his tale across generations until it reached a young boy growing up in Tennessee. His name was Alex Haley. Through the lineage of one family Haley and his Pulitzer Prize - winning Roots told a story for all America and the world. Seen by 130 million viewers during its premiere telecast and the winner of dozens of awards the David L. Wolper production remains an engrossing entertainment 30 years later. Embark on an unforgettable DVD journey.
Based on Alex Haley's bestseller, the 1977 TV mini-series Roots told the harrowing story of one man's ancestors, commencing with African warrior Kunta Kinte, captured, transported to America, stripped of his dignity, his rights, and even his name. He tries but fails to escape before accepting he can never return to Africa. He marries and bears a daughter, Kizzy, who is callously sold, then raped by her new "master". However, her son, Chicken George, a resourceful dab hand with gamecocks, lives long enough to see his own children attain a liberty of sorts following the Civil War. Roots is told in the same, accessible televisual language as The Waltons or Bonanza, yet it is never bland or evasive. It leaves no doubt as to the torment and abuse suffered by blacks, and although the series' conclusion is fictionally satisfying, for many of the black characters their only hope lies in generations yet unborn. It is sturdy enough drama but its greatest, most revolutionary effects were social. It persuaded American audiences to regard their history from a black perspective, and to see how--against odds far more desperate than those the pilgrims faced--Africans laid claim to their status as free African-Americans. Roots was massively popular, triggering a craze for genealogy and paving the way for series like 1979's Holocaust, which similarly raised the public's awareness of the slaughter of the Jews under Hitler. Most importantly, Roots changed forever the way black people were depicted on American TV. On the DVD: Roots is presented in 1:33:1 format and is visually extremely well-preserved. Extra features include a "Roots Family Tree", a copious, informative audio commentary featuring members of cast and crew, and a documentary, "Remembering Roots". Although this consists only of interviews, these convey the extraordinary emotional grip this project had on those who took part in it.--David Stubbs
HE'S TIGHT, TOGETHER, AND MEAN. The hands-down winner of the all-out best blaxploitation movie of the seventies, declares author and artist Darius James in That's Blaxploitation! Willie Dynamite may not be as well-known as John Shaft, Sweet Sweetback or Super Fly's Youngblood Priest, but he certainly deserves to be. Who is Willie Dynamite? He's the flashiest pimp in New York he drives a personalised purple-and-gold Cadillac and wears some of the most eye-catching outfits ever seen on a cinema screen. He wants to be number one, but with the police, the D.A., fellow pimps and a tough-talking social worker on his tail, can a man as arrogant and amoral as Willie D avoid a downfall? Willie Dynamite competes with the best of blaxploitation on all levels. Roscoe Orman dominates with his central performance a star turn that's the equal of Richard Roundtree in Shaft or Pam Grier in Coffy. Multi-award-winning director Gilbert Moses balances action and social commentary as deftly as Gordon Parks, Jr. did with Super Fly. And the score by J.J. Johnson featuring Motown legend Martha Reeves is as catchy as anything composed by Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield or James Brown. SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS: High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements by MGM Original 1.0 mono audio (uncompressed on the Blu-ray) Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing Kiss My Baad Asss, a guide to blaxploitation hosted by actor and musician Ice-T, and featuring interviews with Richard Roundtree, Melvin van Peebles, Isaac Hayes and others Theatrical trailer Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully illustrated collector's booklet containing new writing on the film by Cullen Gallagher
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