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.