Review of "The Book of Negroes" From The TV MegaSite

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The Book of Negroes DVD cover


The Book of Negroes

 Review by Suzanne Lanoue 4/3/15

This is a really good miniseries that aired on BET. It might remind of "Roots" or other similar miniseries. Of course, it's 2015, so it's more intense, and more accurate to the time period, and has more violence, blood and sex. It's definitely not for kids.

If you have any interest in history or historical dramas, you will enjoy it. It's also very pro-women. The film follows a young African girl who's ripped from her murdered parents and her burned village to go on a horrible ship to America. The title refers to this: The British offered black slaves the chance to be free if they worked for them during the Revolutionary War. After the war, they made a list of these former slaves and sent them to Canada (and later back to Africa).

The performances are also good; it stars Aunjanue Ellis as Aminata. You may remember her from "The Mentalist," "NCIS: Los Angeles," "True Blood," "Missing," "Justice," or "E-Ring."  She does a fantastic job. There are a few famous faces, such as Lou Gossett, Jr. (who was in "Roots" as well), Cuba Gooding Jr. and Jane Alexander. It's a huge cast, though.

The DVD 3-disk set is great to have. My only complaint is that there's no closed-captioning whatsoever, and I usually rely on that quite a bit. It's especially tough when there are accents, but they do a pretty great job on the sound, so it wasn't like I was lost or anything. Also, I think it's a little slow-moving compared to most of today's TV shows.

It's definitely well worth watching, especially if you missed it on BET. There are many good features where the cast members and others talk about the show, and also the writer, Lawrence Hill, who wrote the novel that the movie was based on.













"The Book of Negroes is a masterpiece, daring and impressive in its geographic, historical and human reach, convincing in its narrative art and detail, necessary for imagining the real beyond the traces left by history."  The Globe and Mail


Banff - June 11, 2013 - Conquering Lion Pictures, Out Of Africa Entertainment and leading independent studio Entertainment One (eOne) are pleased to announce the epic mini-series adaptation of The Book ofNegroes, based on the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize-winning novel by Lawrence Hill (published in the US, Australia and New Zealand as Someone Knows My Name). Production will begin shooting in South Africa in the fall and will air on CBC in Canada and BET in the US.


The mini-series is written by multiple-award winning filmmaker Clement Virgo (The Wire, Poor Boy’s Game) and co-written by Lawrence Hill. The Book of Negroes will be directed by Clement Virgo. 


Selected by Oprah Magazine as a 2010 top Summer Read and close to a million copies sold worldwide,The Book of Negroes depicts the extraordinary life journey of Aminata Diallo – an indomitable African woman who cuts a swath through a world that is predisposed to underestimate her. Kidnapped by slave traders in West Africa and subsequently enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata must navigate her way through the American Revolution in New York, the isolated refuge of Nova Scotia and the treacherous jungles of Sierra Leone, before ultimately securing her freedom in England at the dawn of the 19th century.


“Lawrence Hill has given us a gift with his novel The Book of Negroes and I’m now thrilled to be able to convey the exhilaration I felt on first reading it into an exciting cinematic experience for a worldwide audience," said Virgo.


"We feel extremely fortunate to have two broadcasters so committed to this project.  The Book of Negroesis a widely read book in Canada and the CBC has been supportive of this project from day one.  BET are launching The Book of Negroes as their first "event" mini-series, adding this first rate show to their growing slate of original scripted programming,” added Executive Producer, Damon D’Oliveira.


“Reminiscent of the classic TV series Roots, The Book Of Negroes depicts a universal narrative about love, loss, and human survival against a critical moment in history which affected the social fabric of the US, Canada and the UK," said Executive Producer Lance Samuels.


"We are extremely proud to be a part of bringing this remarkable novel to life as a mini-series.  Adapted by acclaimed author Lawrence Hill and talented filmmaker Clement Virgo, we know this important story will inspire and enlighten Canadians across the country,” commented Sally Catto, Executive Director Commissioned and Scripted Programming, CBC English Television.


“We are excited to partner with Conquering Lion Pictures, Out of Africa Entertainment and Entertainment One on this historic project and to bring the acclaimed Book of Negroes to life for the BET audience,” said Loretha Jones, President of Original Programming, BET Networks.


The Book of Negroes is an official Canada-South Africa co-production, executive produced by Damon D’Oliveira (Poor Boy’s Game, Lie With Me) along with Clement Virgo from Conquering Lion Pictures.  Other executive producers include Lance Samuels (Inescapable, Bang Bang Club), Daniel Iron (Cairo Time, Away From Her), Michael Levine (The Republic of Doyle), eOne’s Carrie Stein (Coco Chanel, Burn Up, Diamonds) and Bill Niven (Marion Bridge) of Idlewild Films serving as the Nova Scotia Co-Producer. eOne handles the worldwide rights to the mini-series in all media. The Book of Negroes will be produced in association with Canadian Broadcasting Company and Black Entertainment Television.


About BET Networks

BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions:, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; CENTRIC, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the 25- to 54-year-old African-American audience; BET Digital Networks - BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for the home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; BET Event Productions, a full-scale event management and production company with festivals and live events spanning the globe; BET operates in the United Kingdom and oversees the extension of BET network programming for global distribution.


About CBC/Radio-Canada
CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada's national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. The Corporation is a leader in reaching Canadians on new platforms and delivers a comprehensive range of radio, television, internet, and satellite-based services. Deeply rooted in the regions, CBC/Radio-Canada is the only domestic broadcaster to offer diverse regional and cultural perspectives in English, French and eight Aboriginal languages.


About Entertainment One

The company’s comprehensive network extends around the globe including Canada, the US, the UK, Ireland, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Benelux, France, Germany, Scandinavia, South Africa and South Korea Through established Entertainment and Distribution divisions, the company provides extensive expertise in film distribution, television and music production, family programming and merchandising and licensing. Its current rights library is exploited across all media formats and includes more than 35,000 film and television titles, 2,700 hours of television programming and 45,000 music tracks.

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