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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings [VHS] (1979)

Paul Benjamin , Diahann Carroll , Fielder Cook  |  NR |  VHS Tape
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)


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Frequently Bought Together

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings [VHS] + I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings + The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou
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Product Details

  • Actors: Paul Benjamin, Diahann Carroll, Ruby Dee, Roger E. Mosley, Esther Rolle
  • Directors: Fielder Cook
  • Writers: Leonora Thuna, Maya Angelou
  • Producers: Jean Moore Edwards, Thomas W. Moore
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Live / Artisan
  • VHS Release Date: January 12, 1999
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 630016439X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,647 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

(VHS Video) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is based on the writings of African-American poet/playwright Maya Angelou. Though she eventually became America's poet laureate, Angelou was once just another little black girl growing up in Depression-era Arkansas. Her efforts to better herself run up against the stone wall of bigotry; in addition, the girl is traumatized into sullen silence by a brutal rape. Slowly, and with the loving support of her dedicated mother, Angelou overcomes her many deprivations, and by the time she is a high school senior, she has been elected class valedictorian. Constance Good plays young Angelou in this made-for-TV film, which also stars Esther Rolle, Roger E. Mosley, Diahann Carroll, Ruby Dee and Madge Sinclair. Filmed on location in Vicksburg, Mississippi, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was adapted for television by Ms. Angelou and Leonora Thuna; it was first telecast April 28, 1979.


Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
(15)
4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imparts something to all who read it. January 13, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I read this book when I was in high school ages ago and thank goodness I did. It was one of those tidbits that helps to shape who you are and what you think of yourself. I was and still am an avid reader but this book was the first book I read told from a young black girl's perspective. Imagine it.... It blew me away. But as I read this book it made me realize even more so that people are people. While your environment certainly dictates what sort of priorities you have when you are young you basically think the same things. I don't think the times have changed so much that this book wouldn't still be relevant to the youth of today. For young girls (especially black girls) it deals with self esteem and those raging hormones (commonly referred to as "I'm in Love"), and for youth of any sex or color it deals with just growing up.
If you have anyone in your life that is young, impressionable and going through their teens this book should be required reading. They may not want to do it but I don't think they will be sorry they did do it. You might want to read it or reread it if it's been awhile and then actually take some time to discuss it with a young person. Maya's style is easy to read and to absorb and still stands the test of time.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I cry deeply at her moving life April 5, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I am truely a fan of the amazing Maya Angelou. As A white man in his late 20's, you may find this bewildering. She has been a light in my life from her very first novel/autobiography. We were not asked to read the book in High School (mid 80's) like many schools, but I took it upon myself to do so. It wasn't assigned to me until college. (The rest of her story, it took upon myself to explore.) I did not know that there was a film of this work until I got married in 1993, when I quoted a bit of peotry of Ms. Angelou at my reception. Someone told us about the film and eventhough there was some creative omitions, the power and strength of the young lady came through. I am greatful for Ms. Angleou and her works. And it was wonderful to see that someone was able to put to screen what was in my imagination.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too slow and, well, boring December 30, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Maya Angelou is one of my favorite authors (see my Maya Angelou "buyer's guide"), so I was really excited when I got my hands on a copy of this made-for-TV movie which is based on her autobiography of the same title. After watching it for about an hour, I had to turn it off. It is far too slow and - I hate to use the word but here I go - boring. Most of the actors don't really seem to fill their roles really well, with Esther Rolle being the exception. She really comes through in this movie and was perhaps the only thing that kept me interested (though she couldn't save the movie).
Joseph Campbell was quoted as saying that, ultimately, all stories have been told. Most stories are based on the journey of the hero. This is certainly the case with Maya Angelou's life as depicted in I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS. Campbell indicated that what makes a story worthwhile is the orinigality of the way it is told. And that is the problem with a TV movie based on Angelou's book: it doesn't have Angelou to tell it. In other words, I believe that Maya Angelou as a story teller and personality is just as interesting as the story she tells. A movie version of her life cannot be told by her but must be told by screenwriters, directors, actors, etc., and therefore suffers.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars just like the book, it's an excellent story! April 23, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
I was forced to read the book for my education class in college. i thought at first that it was going to boring but the more i got into it, the more i truely enjoyed seeing a different side to Maya. i liked the book so much that i had to go out and rent the movie! both are wonder representations of what hard work and determination can do for people!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Reader, September6, 1997; I give it a "10" September 6, 1997
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I had to read this book over the summer for English class and I thought it was going to be a horrible book. It turns out that I was wrong, it was a great book. It is very interesting and true to life. It tells of the struggles of a strong black individual growing up in a harsh world having to deal with societys predjuice. She had only her grandmother and God to believe in and her brother to help her through hard times. Without these people I think that she would have never made as the great and enspiring person she is today. END
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting Drama of young people growing up April 1, 2007
Format:VHS Tape
Have never memorized a poem, but her brother could.
When Oliver asks for "more" our hearts are with him.
Maya Angelou says that they deserve more.
Her autobiographical description of being raped as a young girl and her
recovery is inspiring. I don't think a black class war on all white establishment efforts is right either.
I believe from my own experience that blacks do deserve more.
The black heritage is important to our culture.
It is by the vitality of the parts of our society that we
are served and serve. If you don't allow people fulfill their abilities their potential
is wasted for all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very well done! May 26, 2014
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
For anyone who has read Maya Angelou's works, this tape is a joy to have. Excellent cast, well directed,and very useful for my students to see. In the age of remakes and movies with II, III and IV in the titles, why this has not been remade or converted to DVD is a mystery.
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