John Adams (HBO Film TV 2008)

5 Kernels

History.  In school, it can be dry.  It’s mere words on a page of a thick book, accentuated with old works of art depicting our founding fathers of the United States. As a child, I found history to be my least favorite subject. In my adult years, my interest has resurrected, because it gives me the foundation of who I am.

As most of my friends and readers know, I’m crazy about the United Kingdom. My mother’s parents were from Manchester, England.  I have spent the past 15 years of my life researching my roots, building an enormous family tree dating back to mid-1700’s consisting of Holland, Eyre, and Burrows surnames. These are the roots I often refer to because my ancestors didn’t land in the new world until 1911. I have no one in my family dating back to the revolutionary or civil wars.  Perhaps, that is why my interest has always been on the dry side when it comes to the history of the country in which I live.

Recently, I tuned into Amazon Prime and watched the HBO Series John Adams. The first two episodes should be required viewing. It is great insight into the growing unrest of British rule over the 13 colonies and what led the Continental Congress to voting for independence from Britain.  The introductory paragraph of the Declaration of Independence tells why our break with England occurred.  It’s more than taxation without representation; it’s when the government and its ruler is deemed a tyrant that people revolt and seek a better life.

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The series John Adams is excellent and engaging. Paul Giamatti is well-deserving of the multiple awards won worldwide for his portrayal of John Adams.  The characters of the past who have merely been names on a page come alive from George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Sam Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and many others.  You may think the series is about the revolutionary war and bombs bursting in air, but you’ll see very little warfare on screen.  It’s based upon the men who steered the 13 colonies into freedom, and the political beliefs that led them to dare and split from Britain.  It’s a story of politics and the sacrifices made by individuals to see our country free. As John Adams said, “People and nations are forged in the fires of adversity.” HBO gives us a glimpse of the birthing stage of our government and the various political thoughts and rise of various parties.

As the series progresses, and the war is won, the story turns toward John Adams’ life and pursuits afterward. He ends up ambassador to Great Britain and then eventually returns home to become Vice President at George Washington’s side.  The scene of the inauguration of George Washington is another memorable moment. Eventually, Adams becomes president. Of interest, is a vast difference in political views between Adams and Jefferson even in the infancy of independence.

You won’t find any crazy costumes by HBO.  If you’re into the French, you’ll love the painted faces and powdered wigs of the day while Adams visits France in Episode 3. The acting overall is suburb, as well as Laura Linney, who plays Abigail Adams the tortured, lonely wife.  Her character fills in the gap of John’s personal life and family.

As far as historical accuracy, the timelines are a bit unrealistic.  If you want a list of goofs, you can read them at the website. Tom Hanks is the executive producer of this series. It bears the mark of excellence in many ways, so I’m willing to forgive the slight mistakes. Unless you are history buff of the deepest caliber, they will fly by unnoticed.

Personally speaking, for someone who often wishes she could live in the United Kingdom, I will admit the series did something for me as a resident of the United States.  It reminded me of my citizenship, but also reminded me of how far we have strayed from our founding fathers and their lofty principles.

We are a land of opportunity and a melting pot for people from around the world seeking life, liberty, and happiness. In 1776, countries worldwide watched us launch into a new form of democratic government and fight for freedom. However, unless our government today is led by men of character and integrity like those who formed it, I am afraid that we will be governed again by tyrants who threaten our freedom on many levels.  There is no doubt that our country has changed and will continue to change in the years ahead.

As John Adams wrote to his wife after he first moved into the White House when it was under construction:

“Before I end my letter, I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof.”

Has his prayer been answered?  I’ll let you decide.

PS – Sad to see the great talents of Paul Gimatti wasted on Century Link commercials in 2016. Hope he finds some decent roles in the future.

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