I missed the Made-for-TV movie Freedom Road, based on Howard Fast's powerful novel by the same name and starring Muhammad Ali and Kris Kristofferson, when it aired on HBO in 1979, and I've been looking for it ever since. Now, finally, after 34 years, it's been resurrected and posted to YouTube at:
To my knowledge this is the only serious fictional movie ever made about the vast, rich, complex, inspiring and ultimately tragic revolution and counter-revolution that enveloped the entire South during and after the Civil War, events that profoundly shaped modern America, though most of us know little about them.
Ali's wooden performance does not justify the obscurity to which this otherwise well-cast, well-acted, well-filmed and gripping movie was consigned, nor justify the silencing of a great story that needs to be told. Perhaps the story lay so far outside the standard narrative about Emancipation and Reconstruction that critics and movie distributors didn't know what to make of it, or even felt repulsed?
Two generations of Americans have grown up without this movie. It tells a story that has much to say to us about our own way forward.
Let's take it viral, now, while the window of a free Internet is still open to us.