If you’re fascinated by history and in particular the foundation of liberty on which our nation was built, you will find watching “John Adams” satisfying.
“John Adams,” a most interesting 7-part miniseries originally aired on HBO in early 2008 (now available in a 3-dvd set), is based on the book John Adams by David McCullough. The film won 13 awards at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards, a record for the miniseries category. Such recognition of the quality of the actors & casting of this production is not surprising, since the writing, cinematography, architecture & location shots, costumes, and overall realism and details of both the characters and sets is impressive.
Viewing it came at an opportune time for me as I was reading the letters between John Adams and his wife Abigail (intrigued by their communication which I found to be not only interesting in view of the history in the making which they were experiencing, but also the ideas, perceptions, and feelings they shared with one another as a couple.) Thus, I was looking forward to receiving the dvd set, and in watching the film, I learned much more and it increased my interest in reading more about Adams. In my opinion, the historical accuracy was intact and I learned much from this excellent biography (a few what I considered rather trivial inaccuracies have been mentioned in some reviews of the film, all of which I deemed unimportant and minor when compared with the overall highly accurate portrayal of both the man and of the history of our nation’s founding; thus I consider the film highly accurate and recommend it to others, like myself, who are fascinated by history and who have a particular interest in learning more about the lives of those who courageously chose liberty over tyranny).
The founding of this nation, the risks, the losses and suffering, and the spirit of a people seeking liberty was well represented. It is both a historical as well as a personal account of John Adams, played by Paul Giamatti. As I was reading the correspondence between the couple at the time, I recognized sentiments (if not direct quotes themselves) throughout the film reflecting well the two characters’ personalities. From his strengths, political stances, motivations, rivalries with others, to his weaknesses, the story is a vibrant account of not only Adams’ life, but also of many of those who shaped American history.
As for his wife, Abigail, actress Laura Linney was superb. Abigail Adams’ intellectual exchanges, spoken or written, appeared to reach her husband on a level no one else could, perhaps because her words – be they encouraging or even when challenging or in disagreement were always supportive of him and in harmony with the purpose and values both shared. He could trust her, thus he was receptive (and relinquished ego reactions which he sometimes succumbed to with others) when she shared thoughts with him.
I was particularly taken by the bitter debate between the representatives of the 13 colonies through the Continental Congress as they as disputed repeatedly the decision as to whether to break apart from Great Britain, the creation of The Declaration of Independence, and the characters as depicted of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin are outstanding.
Also, one of the most powerful aspects of this film was realizing that politics in America has from its inception been a dark arena of lies, deceit, strategy, and betrayal. Sadly, those unfortunate givens in politics today are nothing new, as they are simply the result of human beings, some making truth their priority and others making power their priority.
Human nature is well illustrated through the lives, both struggles and achievements, both political and personal, depicted of those whose vision for a nation founded on liberty created the United States of America. The struggles of the new nation, like the struggles of an individual, are made clear as principles and values are examined, tested, explored, compromised or held steadfast. Through their foibles and strengths, one can appreciate not only the great toil and danger of their task and the courage it required, but also that which they experienced as human beings with the same emotions and motivations we have today.
Independence has always required strength and perseverance, and the human spirit always requires independence.
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