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Film Analysis - Roots of Resistance a Story of the Underground Railroad

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Film Analysis - Roots of Resistance a Story of the Underground Railroad

Film Analysis: Roots of Resistance a Story of the Underground Railroad

In the movie Roots of Resistance a Story of the Underground Railroad, the filmmaker makes some very strong points. He made the movie in a way that portrays his specific opinion and views on the Underground Railroad. If a viewer didn't know what the movie was about they may have guessed it would have been a very different kind of movie based on the title. After watching the movie in its entirety you realize that the movie was made to generate a very different view on the Underground Railroad. In this movie the idea behind the Underground Railroad is that it was solely in the control of the slaves. From other sources (elementary and high school text books) we grow up being taught that the Underground Railroad was a route constructed by several freed blacks, several white abolitionists and sympathetic people along the way. This film teaches otherwise, it showed how slaves got the urge to escape, how they planned escapes and how they finally did escape. The movie gives sole credit for the Underground Railroad to the slaves, where it truly belongs, because in the end the slaves were the ones who chose to run, no one forced them.

Throughout the movie the filmmaker uses several types of evidence to prove his thesis. The main type of evidence was resistance. The whole movie is based on the idea of slave resistance. He defines clearly the different ways the slaves used resistance to have some sort of control over their lives. These different forms of resistance such as not working up to their potential, running away for several days, and holding secret religious meetings all helped and provided the inspiration the slaves needed to want to escape. Resistance was the push the slaves created to make a better life for themselves. This evidence strongly establishes the idea that slaves had control over the Underground Railroad. It proves how resistance caused and was the beginning of the Underground Railroad. But the movie did have one flaw. It used ancestors to provide "factual evidence" to support the filmmaker's thesis. Ancestors can only tell of what they've been told, and sometimes it isn't the whole story or the truth. But there are no records of the Underground Railroad and so estimates from ancestors and historians are all that can be contrived to come up with an idea of what really happened on and away from the plantations.

Religion played a rather small but significant role in the slave community. The film talked of how slaves would gather on Sunday's in the woods where they would have secret religious meetings. They would pray, sing songs and create an uplifting attitude that would give them hope and often encourage them to make it through another day. Slave owners were uneasy at the idea of these meetings. They saw these meetings as chances for slaves to congregate and plan to escape. They also didn't like the bible being taught to slaves because they were afraid that the bible might encourage slaves to realize they were being oppressed and inspire them to revolt. In David Walker's Appeal he talks of precisely what the slave owners where fearful of. He discusses how slaves are treated far worse than any other people in history, how no where in the bible before has anyone ever been treated and thought of as not apart of the human race and he even tells slaves

"Never make an attempt to gain our freedom or natural right, from under our cruel oppressor, and murderers, until you see your way clear [6]--when that hour arrives and you move, be not afraid or dismayed; for be you assured that Jesus Christ the King of heaven and of earth who is the God of justice and of armies, will surely go before you" (Walker).

Speeches such as this were exactly what slave owners were afraid of. They didn't want their slaves to be encouraged by the teachings in the bible, or provoked by the idea that they would be with, and helped by Jesus Christ as they ran away from oppression. The fact that religion gave slaves a new outlook on just how poorly they were being treated, and how it showed them how other oppressed peoples had revolted, and how it gave them the feeling that God would lead and protect them as they ran away was exactly why some slaves owners didn't allow for such Sunday meetings or any kind of religious occurrence to take place.

If slaves did finally escape the plantation they faced many challenges. These challenges often resulted in unsuccessful escapes. Slaves often had a hard time traveling the long distances it took to be free. The way to freedom was greatly influenced on a slave's location. Slaves in the lower southern states had it particularly rough; they often had to travel from Georgia all the way to Canada to be free. Slaves in the upper part of the south had a slightly easier

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