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May 2007


By Kam Williams

DVD Review:

Cast: LeVar Burton, Ben Vereen, Cicely Tyson, John Amos, Leslie Uggams, George Stanford Brown, Maya Angelou, Moses Gunn, Thalmus Rasulala, and many more
Format: Box set, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
Language: English
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Number of discs: 4
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: May 22, 2007
Run Time: 573 minutes (9 hours, 33 minutes)
DVD Features:
Available Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
"Remembering Roots" featurette
Video highlights with cast relaying stories about filming particular scenes
Audio commentary from key cast members
New bonus disc:
"Crossing Over: How Roots Captivated a Nation" (2007)
Documentary "Roots: One Year Later" (1978)


30th Anniversary Edition of Emmy-Winning Miniseries Arrives on DVD
Originally airing on television in 1977, the miniseries Roots was based on Alex Haley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning best seller of the same name. The groundbreaking, autobiographical adventure introduced Levar Burton in the lead role as Kunta Kinte, and featured far too many co-stars to list them all
The sweeping, genealogical saga sought to encapsulate the black experience by telescoping in on the author’s own family tree, starting in Africa in 1750 and ending in Arkansas a couple of centuries later. The show served as an eye-opening expose’ on the evils of slavery, as it forced the U.S. for the first time to face that long-suppressed aspect of its legacy. Among the critically-acclaimed program’s accolades were nine Emmys, a Golden Globe, a Peabody, and over one hundred other awards. Unfortunately, the production later lost a bit of its luster when Haley was sued successfully for plagiarizing parts of what was supposed to be his own very personal journey of self-discovery.
Though appearing a bit melodramatic in spots by today’s standards, this adaptation holds up enough to remain heartily recommended as a valuable history lesson and as a juxtaposition to demeaning satires of the series over the intervening years by shock comics such as Dave Chappelle.