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I watched "Roots" when I was fifteen years old, having absolutely *no* real-life experience to lend the series context - I lived in a sheltered, upper-middle class suburb, and had absolutely no exposure to any of this, except what I was taught in school. Having recently watched movies such as "Django Unchained," "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" "Do the Right Thing," and "12 Years a Slave," I thought it was high time for *me* to do the right thing, and get back to the roots of all these movies - the original 1977 miniseries, which caused an incredible stir when it was released. It was hard to watch then, and I suspect it will be even harder to watch now that I have life's experiences behind me. I remember very well, about twenty years ago, a Jewish friend of mine watched all of "Shoah" - no small task - because he promised himself that he would, as a Jew, in order to educate himself and remember what happened to his people. For a similar - but opposite - reason, I'm watching Roots: Not because of what happened *to* my people, but because of what my people did *to* another race of innocents. Do I feel *personally* responsible for what occurred? I wasn't born yet, so how could I? Do I feel a responsibility for what occurred? Of course I do - primarily because it's still going on. A successful television broadcast is now considered to be about 10 million viewers - even though Roots got off to a relatively slow start, episode #1 was the only episode of the 8 - which ran every day for a week - that pulled in less than 30 million. It was remarkably successful, and well-received by both critics and the general public alike. Roots won 9 Emmy Awards with 28 nominations, and 1 Golden Globe Award with 2 nominations. Maybe I'm being a touch dramatic, but I hope this post inspires others to rewatch this important series. Amazon has the first episode for free, hoping to reel in viewers who will purchase the entire series for $34.99. I refuse to pay this, and am wondering if anyone knows where it can be viewed for less money. Alex Haley wrote the book (see below for additional information), and is implicitly credited as a Writer in all six episodes. There are simply too many stars in this series to do anything but add simple links for them - refer to their Wikipedia links for all the other work they've done - this would be a fool's errand for me to attempt. Jan 23 - Jan 29, 1977 - Episode List and Timetable Episode 1 - Directed by David Greene (Director of "Sebastian"), Written by William Blinn (Screenwriter of "Brian's Song") and Ernest Kinoy (Writer of "I Wouldn't Start from Here" on "Route 66") Featuring Edward Asner, O.J. Simpson, Ralph Waite, Ji-Tu Cumbuka, Maya Angelou, Moses Gunn, Thalmus Rasulala, Hari Rhodes, William Watson, Renn Woods, Levar Burton, Cicely Tyson, Ernest Thomas, Rebecca Bess, Henry Butts, Episode 2 - Episode 3 - Episode 4 - Episode 5 - Episode 6 - When the first episode ended, the first thing I thought of was the 9/11 attacks by Al-Qaeda: A few *morons* with letter openers brought down the World Trade Center, killing thousands in the process. It takes so little to do so much damage, and although slavery was a large institution, the protagonists in Episode 1 were just a few dozen idiots. Ironically, the victims of this crime against humanity were Muslim. I'm not sure how historically accurate that is (Alex Haley was caught plagiarizing parts of his book), but in Ghana, i,e., Northwest Africa, it's not impossible. "Miniseries: Roots Special" on pbs.org May 27, 2016 - "Roots: Behind the 1977 Series that Started a National Conversation" by Alynda Wheat on people.com
*** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** The only thing I'd ever seen about "Chariots of Fire" is the opening song, the run along the beach (both of which take place at the very beginning of the film), and parodies thereof - it was hard not to be roused by the classic combination, worn out though it may be. I didn't realize the film took place in 1924; I thought it was a World War II movie - I know virtually nothing about it, so I'm looking forward to it very much. Okay, 25-minutes in, I'm a "wee bit" worried that this is going to be a "message movie" (the message of brotherhood), but I'm banking on the Best Picture win to ensure it isn't nauseating - anything that beats out "Raiders of the Lost Ark" must be great, right? Right? So far it's shaping up to be a classic human drama - Christian vs. Jew, for lack of a more elegant phrase. I'd say this is around the time of "feel-good" movies, but "Ordinary People" won the award the year before, so that theory is instantly dispelled. When Scotland was racing France in the quarter-mile, the maggot who pushed Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) off the track, never got another camera shot (I rewound the film to check (*)). Yes, Harold Abrahams' (Ben Cross) clutching of the paper when Liddell got back up to chase down his unethical foe was quite touching - go ahead, call me a softie. (*) Oh yes he did! About twenty minutes later, when he gave Abrahams (not Liddell) an "eat shit" look in the locker room. My only question at this point is that Liddell seems to be a middle-distance runner, whereas Abrahams seems to be an all-out sprinter, so how can they compete against each other? Or, is that not where the film is heading? Whoa! A middle-distance runner beat Abrahams in a sprint the first time they meet? Abrahams has every right to be upset - wow, I wasn't expecting that. That girl (the actress) telling him he was acting like a child, and that he was "marvelous" has absolutely *no clue* what it's like to be an athlete who loses. Seeing the transportation from various countries coming towards this 1924 Olympics - countries had to have *money*, serious money, to just *get to the games*. Forget hosting; I'm talking about just getting there - it's remarkable, coming over by slow boat, slightly post-WWI. The Olympics are high-dollar entertainment, especially now, and that's why poor countries just simply cannot compete (unless, of course, they're genetically superior athletes, such as Kenyan marathoners (forgive the stereotype, but it's true)). This makes me realize that the Olympics was, is, and probably always will be, games for the rich, or at least for countries who are so proud that they pour money into making a good showing. In a way it's quite sad; in a way, it's harsh reality. "The Skaters' Waltz" shows up here numerous times. Did you know that this is *not* by Johann Strauss I? No, it's by the relatively unknown French composer, Émile Waldteufel - isn't that amazing? Ask most classical music aficionados this question, and they'll have no idea what the answer is.The piece is called "The Ice Skaters" (<<Les Patineurs Valse>>) and was composed in 1882, fully fifty years after the heyday of Strauss I (I keep saying "Strauss I" because he also had a son who was "Strauss II." In case you think I'm some Classical Music know-it-all who knew this ... I, too, thought it was composed by Johann Strauss I. There's a lot - a *lot* - about this movie that drags, to the point where I'm surprised it won the Academy Award, but the moment of tension during the start of the 100-meter finals was palpable - the way they dragged out the beginning.really gave everything a "nervous' feeling. I wonder how many people realize that Director Hugh Hudson paid homage - and I mean *direct* homage* - to "Ocean's 11" at the very end of "Chariots of Fire." It was every bit as remarkable (and every bit as obvious) as Martin Scorsese paying homage to "The Great Train Robbery" at the very end of "Goodfellas." This was not quite a much of a "message" movie as I feared it would be, but there was certainly that aspect to it, and quite frankly, that's probably what won it the Best Picture award. "Chariots of Fire" was a very good movie, and I'm willing to say it was a great movie, but it was absolutely *not* the Best Picture of the year - for starters, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was better in every way except for pensive introspection. For those who disagree, I consider "Raiders" to be a classic in the same vein as "The Wizard of Oz," "Star Wars," and "Gone with the Wind" - in other words, it wasn't just "Best Picture" material, but it was one of the greatest motion pictures ever made - an absolute legendary classic which could rightfully be on anyone's Top 10 list. "Das Boot" was better, too, but that's at least debatable. Still, I'm really glad I saw "Chariots of Fire," because I was both entertained and intellectually enriched from the experience - it's worth seeing, and it's something even more than that. Here is the actual video of Eric Liddell winning the 400 meter race.