Friday, September 10, 2010

History in Film: John Adams (HBO Miniseries, 2008)

The one thing that I asked for last Christmas over and over again was the DVD set of "John Adams." The HBO miniseries about the life of the second President of the United States for me is one of the best miniseries I have ever seen (up there with Band of Brothers). I had previously read the book by David McCullough and before I even finished the book, John Adams became my favorite President. Understandably he had his flaws and it is difficult for me to defend some of his actions however looking back at his marriage, his politics, and his life he truly was a great man and a vital cog in the engine which drove us towards independence.

It only took one episode for me to see how amazing this series was going to be. I have never watched a movie, documentary, or TV program that depicted the characters and events of 18th century American better than this miniseries. Paul Giamatti truly deserved the Emmy he one for his portrayal of John Adams. He brought all sides to this man's personality, depicting a man with high moral character and a passion for the law and the rights of man. Giamatti also showed a man of impatience, pride, ingratitude, and most importantly love toward his beloved wife. His 'dearest friend' as Adams always indicated in his letters to to her. Unlike many of our other founding fathers John Adams would not and admitted he could not be as successful as he was without the love and support of his wife, Abagail.

The historical moments in Adams life are shown from the Boston Massacre to his death in 1826. After studying the Founding Fathers and the events before and after the American Revolution fairly extensively I can honestly say there is a great accuracy in how they showed what life was like in that period and the events which occurred. The biggest surprise for me is scenes involving the Continental Congress. After having visited Philadelphia and seeing the room in Independence Hall I realized how small and intimate the setting was for debate amongst the colonial delegates. The scenes in "John Adams" shows that tight space they had, the long hours they debated, and the massive divide between colonies along with the compromises that brought them to independence. No production I have ever seen shows this better than this miniseries.

From beginning to end this miniseries draws you in and opens yours eyes to a world you only want to learn more about. This era in our history is becoming continually distorted and muddied by the myth and unknown facts that get taught to students from a very early age. I challenge everyone to watch this miniseries at the first chance they get and then read more about our founding fathers, the events of the American Revolution, and the politics that got us to the Constitution which we live under today.

Entertainment Rating - 4 out of 5
Historical Value - 4.5 out of 5

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