Roots

Roots

Though Steve McQueen‘s latest film debuted less than three weeks ago, it feels safe to say that we now live in a post-12 Years a Slave era. The black British director, a descendant of Caribbean slaves, put forth a vision of “the peculiar institution” so harrowingly realistic and so convincingly nuanced that his film sets a new standard for what every subsequent slavery movie should look like and do. It’s also easy to imagine that McQueen’s film will be the image of slavery this generation will have as a reference point when it inevitably ends up in high-school history classes all over America. Challenging 12 Years a Slave‘s near-guaranteed hegemony – and taking advantage of the current “slavery trend” that Deadline identifies, between Django Unchained, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Lincoln, and McQueen’s masterpiece – is the History Channel’s planned remake of Roots. The 1977 miniseries was enormously influential, seen in whole or in part by eight-five percent of all homes with televisions during the initial airing. Home to UFO Hunters and Pawn Stars, however, the History Channel’s past programming inspires little confidence that it can do justice to the original. But the larger question is whether TV can do justice to the dehumanizing brutality of slavery.

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For 36 days straight, we’ll be exploring the famous 36 Dramatic Situations by examining a film that exemplifies each one. From family killing family to prisoners in need of asylum, we brush off the 19th century list in order to remember that it’s still incredibly relevant today. Whether you’re seeking a degree in Literature, love movies, or just love seeing things explode, our feature should have something for everyone. If it doesn’t, please don’t tie us to a bed and break our feet. Part 1 of the 36-part series takes a look at “Falling Prey to Cruelty and Misfortune” with Misery.

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