Well, I have finally finished the whole #Roots2016 ( 3 times already) and I say..bravo. Now, I will admit there are some moments which seem to wallow into melodrama, a couple of which I thought are ripe for a Key&Peele satirical skit. Overall, for me the strongest episodes are Part 1 & 2. Okay, with all that said, I am a still a fan of this remake. The remaining 2 episodes focused on Kizzy after being sold away and her son Chicken George.
I am distressed with the number of foreign actors who are cast in roles that are intrinsic to our experience in this country. As if we are not able to tell our own stories but with that said, the actor who portrayed Chicken George was wonderful. I completely fell inlove with that character, he presented him as a complex but interesting man. He made him a guy you would totally want to swipe right on Tinder. Rose was a powerful Kizzy, she was sensual, intelligent and vulnerable. Meyers as always was fantastic, Lea was not an admirable man but you could understand the conflict that George felt for him. The scene where he looks at Kizzy dancing is quite repugnant and sad at the same time. The relationship I just fell swooned over was between George and his wife Matilda. In the midst of all this horror was this lovely, romantic pairing and everytime he called her Morning Dove the big, pink romantic in me just melted. There are so few moments of them sharing tendernes but when they do it's lovely. The scene of him kissing her as he travels to Charleston was as romantic as any B&W film of yesteryear.
Of course, the practical person in me questions, he really wasnt with another woman in London for over 20 years, did she never sleep with another man knowing he may be dead..but I had to put those all to the side to take in what was Part 4. It is the older, more seasoned George that I really enjoyed and the actor did a wonderful job of inhabiting the pain of delusion and the power of being woke. I loved this George he was grown and wise, not in the corny, sterotypical way but translating into power. As he waits for Maltilda on the Murray farm, its humilating yet tender and there embrace subtle but sensual. We are introduced to whole new extension of the family and while the writing doesnt feel as strong in Part 4, there are some wonderful moments. My personal favorite is when George's uses his father's gun in the most appropiate way possible. It makes me giggle and clap everytime.
I dont mean to wax poetic for a mini-series that is about the longest, most brutal institution this country has ever known but I applaud that even in the ugliest of circumstances, Love is never absent. How beautiful is that?
I had tried to avoid it, as much as I love my Lifetime I depend upon them for my crazy chick flicks and not historical drama especially not dealing with racism. Understanding, that this new production was produced by the History Channel made me feel slightly less concerned..slightly since I am not to quick to forget the Lucifer that was remarkably similar to Pres. Obama in thier story of Jesus Christ. I do remember the original, which my mother would not let my sister and I watch but we eventually saw on the 4:30 movie on Channel 9. The original production or I should say the Alex Haley novel has been debunked as fiction, there have been parts that were allegedly plagarized and oral histories that have been challenged by inaccuracies. While I found that disappointing in 2002, I don't believe it was the most important element of Roots. What is compelling or the importance of Roots, is the revealing of how the history of this story began. One of the most telling moments in this current incarnation, is the independence after the Revolutionary War as white people celebrate thier freedom from the monarchy and the slaves continue to work in the fields.
I have just watched 2 parts of the miniseries and I am already hooked and horrified at the same time. The first night I had to take periodic breaks from watching because it was just so brutal. The current version is implicit in making the statement that " slavery was hell". The violence or disruption is almost unrelenting, unlike the original where you got a sense of thier moments of initmacy there almost none in this version. The moments of levity are almost a welcome reprieve which is sort of ironic. The lead who is playing Kunta Kinte is a reflection of the #blacklivesmatter energy of the moment, in his eyes you fear and admire his resolve to never be a slave. He feels like a fully actualized man, a Mandinka warrior is his beauty and fierce intelligence. I also appreciate which was lacking in the last version that he practices a different religion, he is Muslim. What is lacking is the recognition that Islam like Christanity came through conquest and does not reflect an African based faith. Yoruba was prominent and I am not sure why it is still not recognized in the conversation about slavery.
Forest Whitaker portrayal of Fiddler is just lovely, you feel his love, protection and also admiration for the young Kunta Kinte that when he is taken you are just as hurt Kunta Kinte.
What I also appreciate is the love in the midst of so much madness and terror. Love can thrive in the most horrendous of circumstances and this is a beautiful example, in this version and the past one. We suffered but we also married, made love and found some scrap of divine in the midst of depravity.
I look forward to the next 2 installations of this mini-series also to the remote, when I need to take a periodic break. Unlike many of my community, I never tire of seeing movies about slavery, this was a 200 year atrocity where the reverberations can still be felt today. I have no shame being the descendants of people who were enslaved, I am proud of the fortitude and the inner-strength to survive a horror that would and did weaken the strongest of humans. I look forward to one day being able to portray a warrior of this period of American history and explore the complexities and the incredible humanity it took to survive. Not only do my people survive but they thrived in the most amazing of ways, with one being the First Lady of the United States.
An Actor/Director sharing her thoughts on creativity in this crazy metropolis, New Yawk Citay.