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Movie Review: Moving Midway

Alternate Title: Roots

Story: Guess what? When you decide to relocate, not only yourself, but your actual, physical, ancestral home, lots of stuff you did not know was packed in that attic will start to pour out. This is a fascinating documentary by former NY Press film critic, Godfrey Cheshire (who both wrote and directed).

Cheshire discovers that his ancestral home, Midway Plantation, in Raleigh, North Carolina has been slated for relocation by his cousin, the present owner, because progress (and traffic) has reached its doorsteps. He decides to investigate. What he discovers is that his family's memory and oral history is not quite as it happened. He discovers over 100 African American cousins, whose roots in the United States started at Midway Plantation as slaves.

This is not a Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemming's story, but it has many of the same elements that both bring pride, hate and shame to succeeding generations. Cheshire weaves his own family history alongside the history of the South as it has been presented to the American people through film and literature. Very interesting passages include the influence of Birth of a Nation, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Gone With the Wind and of course - Roots.

If you do see this film, make sure to sit through the credits. The postscript is worth the price of admission.

Watch the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I0yIGggvPI

Acting: Does not apply in a documentary.

Trivia: Birth of a Nation (also known as The Clansman), a silent film directed by D. W. Griffith and released in 1915, is one of the most influential and controversial of American motion pictures. Set during and after the American Civil War, the film was based on Thomas Dixon's The Clansman, a novel and play. The Birth of a Nation is noted for its innovative technical and narrative achievements, and its status as the first Hollywood "blockbuster." It has provoked great controversy for its treatment of white supremacy and sympathetic account of the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. Gone with the Wind is a 1936 American novel by Margaret Mitchell set in the Old South during the American Civil War and Reconstruction.The novel won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning 1939 film of the same name.

Predilection: I like documentaries.

Soundtrack: Terrific music by Ahrin Mishan and songs by Algia Mae Hinton

Visual Art: The details of the southern ancestral home were fascinating.

Theater Audience: Five other people

Weather: Lovely

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: Slavery is very squirmy.

Drift Factor: I paid attention throughout and was particularly interested in the actual engineering feat of moving that house.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: no

Soap Box: What can you say about slavery that has not been written before. shameful, shameful, shameful.

Big Screen or Rental: Rental would be fine. There are many Civil War films that you could rent to get a taste of invented history.

Length: Under two hours.