Roots: The Next Generations (DVD)
Could there be a worthy follow-up to the most-watched miniseries ever? "We felt the other did so well," Alex Haley said, "that we should just let it hang there." But Haley began carrying around a tape recorder, dictating more of his family's tales as they came to his memory. Those remembrances filled a 1,000-page transcript: raw material for Roots: The Next Generations. Winner of the Emmy for Best Limited Series, this landmark continuation of a landmark event - with 53 stars and 235 speaking parts - "is in many respects a superior achievement," Newsweek said in comparing this to Roots. Twenty-five years later, it has lost none of its dramatic and emotional power to make us confront history and examine ourselves. One man's family remains everyone's!]]>
Roots rocked the cultural landscape in the late '70s, creating a new wave of awareness of black history. That wave opened the door for its sequel, Roots: The Next Generations, even more of a star-studded event than the original, with stars like Olivia de Havilland, Henry Fonda, Marlon Brando, and James Earl Jones eager to partake in the tale. The sequel follows the rest of the saga of the family of author Alex Haley, from where Roots ended at the Civil War, up to the 1970s when Haley was researching and writing his earth-shattering family story.
While nothing can rival the power of the original Roots' unflinching look at the slave trade and slave life in the early years of this country, the sequel is still full of rich African American history, from Reconstruction, to Jim Crow, to the civil rights movement and the early rumblings of black power. Fonda and de Havilland are respectable in their period-piece roles, but the real power of this sequel is in the more immediate concerns of Haley and his own experience of prejudice while building a stellar reputation as a writer and journalist in the '60s and '70s. One of the most unsettling scenes takes place then, when Haley interviews the head of the American Nazi Party, played with chilling diffidence by Brando. (Brando won an Emmy for this performance.) Haley is also challenged by his fractious interview with Malcolm X (a gripping Al Freeman Jr.). Jones launches his acting career playing Haley with nuance and heart, but with a humanizing set of his own demons.
The four-disc set includes all seven episodes plus a compelling documentary, Roots: The Next Generations--The Legacy Continues, with interviews with Jones, costar and episode director Georg Stanford Brown and a still starry-eyed David L. Wolper, who understands the cultural impact of the two miniseries he helped bring to the screen. --A.T. Hurley
- Could there be a worthy follow-up to the most-watched miniseries ever? "We felt the other did so well," Alex Haley said, "that we should just let it hang there." But Haley began carrying around a tape recorder, dictating more of his family's tales as
A RAISIN IN THE SUN is a groundbreaking drama celebrating the human spirit, featuring an electrifying performance by Academy Award(r) winner Sidney Poitier (Best Actor, Lilies of the Field, 1963). The Younger family, frustrated with living in their crowded Chicago apartment, sees the arrival of a $10,000 insurance check as the answer to their prayers. Matriarch Lena Younger (Claudia McNeil) promptly puts a down payment on a house in an all-white suburban neighborhood. But the family is divided when Lena entrusts the balance of the money to her mercurial son Walter Lee (Poitier), against the wishes of her daughter (Diana Sands) and daughter-in-law (Ruby Dee). It takes the strength and integrity of this African-American family to battle against generations of prejudice to try to achieve theirpiece of the American Dream.
AKEELAH AND THE BEE is the inspirational story of Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer), an eleven-year-old girl from south Los Angeles with a gift for words. Despite the objections of her mother Tanya (Angela Bassett), Akeelah enters various spelling contests, for which she is tutored by the forthright Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburne); her principal Mr. Welch (Curtis Armstrong) and the proud residents of her neighborhood. Akeelah's aptitude earns her an opportunity to compete for a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee and, in turn, unites her neighborhood who witness the courage and inspiration of one amazing little girl.
- Actors: Angela Bassett - Curtis Armstrong - J. R. Villarreal - Keke Palmer - Laurence Fishburne -
- Director: Doug Atchison.
- Format: DVD.
- Format Size: Widescreen.
- Runtime: 112 mins.
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