The miniseries is the best program I have ever seen and now thankfully own thanks to my significant other. Even though the young Kunta Kinte is only in the first two episodes, LeVar Burton is what made the show for me. Levar Burton is a revelation and it surprises me that he isn't doing more movies. He reminded me of those silent film stars who show with their eyes. The rest of the actors performed their characters just as well, and it gave me an impression of them playing their characters with the whole of their hearts. In this story Kunta is a good, brave young man who loves his village, his family and Allah. He is only 17 and has just completed manhood training and dreams of having a family of his own; the young warrior is out gathering food for his family when he hears a twig snap and turns to see a white man rushing him. Haley gets inside Kunta's mind and you feel his horror. Kunta fights bravely, he fights like a wild animal, but is overpowered and taken captive and then brutally abducted and put on a slave ship. Haley's book was so much more graphic; it showed scenes the TV show couldn't. To really grasp Kunta's nightmare, you need to read the book. The story eventually follows 200 yrs. of the descendants of this family who's strong will and striving finally brings them to Justice and Freedom.
I think that different directors were assigned to different movies in the series... which could be the reason why movie began to grow weak after Kunta Kinte leaves the storyline. I thought the beginning was rather powerful... displaying the savagery of the white man's actions... entering the peaceful villages in Africa and pulling everybody out in shackles onto their ships' dark and musty cargo holds, and slowly, try to bring the main character into submission once he arrives in America. The rest is...Watchable... but has much less to offer than the first 2. This film is history, it has held up well over almost 30 years since it was originally televised. Racism is still rampant, and not just in the South. By being informed it helps each of us to have compassion and to inventory our beliefs and question our teachings.
This particular DVD version, however, is a little disappointing. I guess I was expecting a little more by way of restored/improved video and audio quality, but this version definitely shows its age. On the other hand, I enjoyed watching this 4 disc anniversary edition. Only 3 discs were related to story. This was not the entire series though. It seemed some scenes were cut out making this typical of an anniversary set. Apart from feeling like I am missing parts of the movie the picture and sound was good. There are one or two new extra features on this DVD that are very interesting, but I would not recommend purchasing this version if you already own the older DVD version unless your copy has been worn out.