Monday, November 8, 2010

John Adams

This HBO miniseries has been in my house almost since it was released on DVD and I just got to watching it.  Adams isn't my favorite President - that would be Abraham Lincoln, duh - but depending on what day you ask, I might call him my favorite Founding Father.  And his wife rocked.

The film starts with the Boston Massacre, and Adams' courtroom defense of the British soldiers.  It was from this that we have his immortal quote, "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."    

Timely observation.

Many familiar characters crossed the canvas.  George Washington creeped me out, until I realized it was because the actor had played a terribly obnoxious bad guy on House.  Rufus Sewell played Alexander Hamilton, Washington's dashing aide de camp and Secretary of the Treasury.  I have spent years getting over my childhood adoration of that guy, and Sewell made him positively smarmy. So.  Thanks for that.  I found Laura Linney's Abigail to be rather understated.  My perception may be skewed because as a historical figure she is way larger than life to me.  Danny Huston's Sam Adams was both incredibly cool and really...scary.  Which is how I imagined him.  Tom Wilkinson pulled off a charming and respectable Ben Franklin.  Whose sexploits only hit the screen once.  And OMG did Paul Giamatti play the hell out of John Adams.

But Adams is often defined by his relationship with (and contrast to) Thomas Jefferson and the film displays that brilliantly.  It also nailed the reason that I can't love Jefferson the way that most people love Jefferson:

He broke John Adams' heart.

It was easy for Adams to believe that Hamilton would throw him under his own political gain.  But his old friend Jefferson?  Jefferson was above "party politics".

This program was based on historian David McCullough's biography, which I understand was the beginning of a renewed interest and appreciation of the Adams family.  It looks like they are finally going to get a memorial in the District of Columbia.  I think I might send them money.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw that miniseries too and it was amazing. Great acting, wonderful story. And a reminder to me that the political bullshit has been around since the beginning of the US....