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|Index||86 reviews in total|
This is a real breath of fresh air from the long list of mediocre
programs offered by TV networks. That I'm so over at this point. HBO
needs to do more of things like John Adams. What was amazing to me was
that given the current political climate with hard fought primary
elections, it came as a complete surprise to me to watch what politics
was like in 1776, and all the same snakes that still were around back
then still in a sense exist today.
Paul Giamatti was simply superb in the role of John Adams. He articulated Adams's role of statesman, politician, husband, father and mentor. Adam's relationship with his wife, Abigail with whom he shared everything was so intriguing. Laura Linney wasn't exactly a raving beauty but I think they down played her looks for this one.I have always loved her and her performance in this only confirms it for me.Question where can I order this whole set as a box set?Im having the hardest time finding it.Im giving this a 10. absolutely loved it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It isn't the way it was, but it never will be again.
The costumes are great for what the budget could afford. I commend the folks who worked with props and costuming for their resourceful skills, in making an American Revolution piece come as much alive as it possibly could for the 21st century.
The acting is terrific! Paul Giammatti is equally picked for his looks and ability. If one must argue against sentimentality and drama, I would highly recommend that they stay away from any theater experience. For Abigail Adams, I am highly sympathetic. The Adams' relationship is built on the principles of communication, just as anyone's family would have been at the time and even now, and considering the time period, it isn't as if she could pick up a phone and dial 1-800-Collect to reach John in France. The point is to single out the Adams' family and show what they struggled through. No one forgets that there were soldiers dying, and let us not forget the horrific tragedies of the Boston Massacre, which are in my opinion more important than the Boston Tea party - even though it may be comedic, beyond that, it serves no purpose in showing what John Adams' principles were built upon, which is the purpose of the first and beginning of the second installments to the series.
All colonials had the necessary skills to be educated, but income is a totally different factor. Not to mention it was hard to have education if you did not have some sort of status with the monarchy. Even after the states are created, and Harvard is formed, one will recall (in order to attend), you had to have some sort of Puritan upbringing, and you were probably going to be a priest for the rest of your life, and most importantly you had a substantial income. Most colonists knew how to read, and had read the complete works of Shakespeare, and the Bible. It took a lot of time for an education system to be properly developed. This does not disregard the fact that each of the representatives of the colonies was in fact fighting for the rights of their people, and what was best for them. Had it not been for the Congress, military would not have formed, there wouldn't be a declaration, and the anarchists in the eyes of Britain would have died just like many anarchists before and after them.
Maybe the History channel will have something on John Adams soon for those that are looking for a more long and drawn out approach of didactics and text book information that will be commercially infested. It will not please History Professors at the college level any more than the mini-series did.
John Adams was absolutely amazing. I never enjoyed history in school
and dislike war movies. But my 30 yr old son sucked me into this series
and like a good book, I couldn't put it down! What an eye opener
humanizing our founding fathers. And the infighting was fascinating. I
was actually pleasantly surprised that the war was so peripheral to the
plot. I wish our present leaders would consider war as a last
alternative and remember that there are people dying in these
And the integrity of Adams and the actor who played him! Paul Giamatti had better get awards for this. You can tell he put his whole soul into the character. Linney, Polley, Moss-Bacharach, Sewell, and Dillane also with standout performances.
Thank you to all parties. This one will stay with me for a long time.
I'm so glad I read the book before watching this TV-series, or I would
have ended up with a completely incorrect and negative view of the 2nd
president, John Adams.
While the book makes no effort to disguise that Mr. Adams was struggling with his temper, the TV-series focuses so much on this problem that entire episodes are nothing but mockery of this man, leaving him without the respect that he is due, and certainly gets in the book.
Also, the TV-series makes the general error all the way through, of portraying all events from a modern viewpoint. This causes two main problems:
1. When faced with pain, many of the old heroes stood up and took the pain, both physical and mental, that came with tough decisions. The book gets this across very clearly, while the TV-series have a tendency to portray the same heroic decisions as coincidences and good luck on behalf of those who made them, especially Mr. Adams, but also Thomas Jefferson. George Washington is the only person treated with dignity.
2. Where the book makes it clear that John Adams and his wife, Abigail were best friends and very much in tune with each other, despite some differences, the TV-series highlights all their differences, and mostly the ones where Abigail ends up being right. Sometimes John is left looking like a baby in a way that portrays Abigail almost as a puppeteer, controlling John and telling him what is the right thing to do.
HBO has put a lot of money into making this series, and a lot of effort into getting many details of clothing and scenery historically accurate. So, it's really unfortunate that the main story does not hold the same quality.
Today we are used to Presidents in a fully furnished White House with a
large staff and all the trappings necessary to perform what many
consider the most important job in the world. We are used to them
living long after their term in office, with secret service and a large
office at their disposal, and the Mayo Clinic on call for any illness
for them or their families. It is hard to believe that before Herbert
Hoover, only a handful of presidents lived more than 10 years our of
office, and most far shorter than that. A pension for a President is a
relatively current development(U.S. Grant wrote his autobiography to
take care of his family) and any President until Hoover just went back
to what he was doing before to make a living. The President in the 20th
and 21st century has well defined duties and a large cabinet and staff
to do their bidding.
In contrast John Adams as our second president moved into a White House that was in the middle of a swamp, half finished and unfurnished. He had no precedent except George Washington for what his job was, or even what his country was, and a 4 person cabinet of advisors. We had a small undeveloped country, with disputed boundaries, no Army and a Navy consisting of arming merchant ships. If he wanted to go somewhere, he got on his horse. Instead of Camp David, he had to ride a carriage to Massachusetts to his working farm. If he or his family got sick, he had the same access to the primitive medical care as anyone, and upon retirement he was expected to make his own living as a farmer and lawyer. John Adams was blessed with a life that was double the median expectancy at the time (90 instead of 45) and thus got to spend exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence to see what the country had become after the Louisiana Purchase(there were already steam train experiments at his death), to see his son become President, and to see his wife and 2 our of 4 children die with him unable to do anything about it.
This series, which is blessed with the underlying book by David McCullough that was developed into a screenplay, has the benefit of covering the incredibly rich, though provoking, and introspective life of John Adams. Adams essentially wrote the screenplay, with his letters to Abigail and Thomas Jefferson providing a treasure trove of information which was developed into a book and a screenplay. He wrote down EVERYTHING- from the most sublime to the most base thoughts, and anybody who read the book will find themselves thinking of our world, people and events in much the same way as Adams did. Those thoughts are somewhat covered in the movie(his insecurity, stubbornness, etc) but unless they put "thought bubbles" over his head it would be hard to convey in a movie. The screenplay is great(why wouldn't it be) and Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney grow (and die) into the role of a lifetime. Stephen Dillane(Jefferson), and Sarah Polley(Nabby) also grow- and die in an moving and thought provoking manner. All others others in the ensemble cast are woven into the story seamlessly. Robert Morse IS George Washington, and the actor who played George III was incredible as well. In fact EVERYBODY and EVERYTHING was incredible-and the first "White House" (burned down in the War of 1812) is a special effects gem in the mold of "Lord of the Rings" or "King Kong" .
Every 8th grade in the country should buy the DVD (at the educational discount as it is $50 or so) and make it a required two weeks of history lessons instead of the dreadful PC films that are out there. It will encourage reading of the book and maybe get everybody (including adults) to get this country back on track. The last line of the movie is as relevant today as when it was made in the 1820's-"Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it."
A dramatic film about John Adams, the great unsung Founding Father, is long overdue. Granted, it is a mighty if not insurmountable challenge to translate to TV serial form the life story of a man of great accomplishments who survived to the age of 90 in the 18th-19th centuries. One would need at least 20 episodes. This series has a mere 7. The filmmakers' strategy is initially total immersion in the dialogues of colonial politics preceding the revolution to the point of wearing our patience. Messages are conveyed clumsily, with each famous personage delivering the Great Quotes He is Known For as part of casual conversation. We are being spoonfed. Then as each episode unfolds this wearying focus begins to drift from place to place and era to era until by the time Adams ascends to the Presidency the story is told in episodic flashes, albeit flashes containing as much narrative information the screenwriter can unobtrusively jam in. The whole Adams Presidency zips by in one episode. The whole post-Presidency (a quarter century in real time) zips by in 55 minutes. By biting off more than they could chew, the makers of this film have perhaps spat out too much. Each episode contains at least one high point when expert acting combined with brilliant staging and just the right dialogue offer appropriate insights into the man, his times and the human condition. At the end when Adams is asked to give his opinion on a mural depicting the Founding Fathers signing the Declaration of Independence the cantankerous old man lets rip on the dishonesty of telling people that all of the Founding Fathers in benign, glowing togetherness held a ceremony to sign the great piece of paper. He declares the true history of the American Revolution "lost." There are some fine performances here: Stephen Dillane as a wry and sly Thomas Jefferson; Laura Linney as the practical, devoted, opinionated and stern-yet-passionate Abigail, delivering her lines with just the right "mid-Lantic" accent that one would expect a woman raised in 18th century New England to have. Sarah Polley scores as the daughter of the Adamses and Tom Wilkinson takes on Ben Franklin with gusto. But poor Paul Giamatti in the title role! He looks nothing like John Adams (the late John Houseman was a dead ringer) and never quite gets his accent to click with his co-players. You are almost always aware that he is acting, and doing a yeoman's job of it, but it is not John Adams that you feel when watching him. People in very authoritative positions as regards this project believe he is brilliant. I respect their opinion, but strongly disagree with it!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you read my separate reviews of the 7 parts of the series then I
suggest you read them first.
The series is about John Adams played in a wonderful performance by Paul Giamatti who is fighting for freedom for the colonies. It also takes a look at him as president and covers his problems at home along with his wife Abigail played by Laura Linney.
If you have not seen this mini-series I say check it out. One thing was going on in my mind while watching this: why does Samuel Adams gets a beer named after him when he did not do any thing where as John Adams did a lot of things. The performances are really well done but some people are wondering why this was not a movie. Well the answer is it didn't need to be a movie because it has too much of a story to tell, and I think that the way it was done here was great. Definitely check it out. It's well paced and well told.
How much do you know about John Adams? I mean really know? If you're
Pulitzer Prize winning author David McCullough, you know enough to
share this enigmatic former President with the world.
Not much of a congenial man, nor known to hold his tongue in tight situations, Adams has often been brushed aside by historians in favor of the more famous George Washington (played here by David Morse, 16 BLOCKS) and Declaration of Independence creator Thomas Jefferson (played by Stephen Dillane, THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED). Even Ben Franklin (Tom Wilkinson, MICHAEL CLAYTON) has more political notoriety than poor Mr. Adams. But Adams is so incredibly important to our nation that he deserves much more notice, and thanks to Mr. McCullough's astounding novel, there's been a resurgence in interest to the former President, thus this new miniseries by HBO.
Paul Giamatti (LADY IN THE WATER) stars as John Adams, the first Vice-President (Did you remember that?) and the second President of these United States (Did you remember that, too?). His trail to fame and Presidential glory is paved with danger, disease, love, and loss.
Giamatti's performance is especially notable in that he pulls off a "man of the times" role in effortless fashion. It didn't hurt, either, that the costumes were exquisitely done, the sets dirty, muddy and generally what one would expect to see around the mid-late-and-post 1700s. Adams lived to a ripe old age, too, of 91 (a good run in any era). During his lifetime he will be witness to the Boston Massacre, the Revolution against Great Britain, become the first minister to Britain after the U.S. gained its independence, and serve as Vice-President and President. A life not ordinary. Especially when you consider the nature of the man: broodish, quick to anger, stubborn in decision-making. But his temper was ...tempered by a friendship that would last a lifetime. And I'm not talking about his well-known association with Thomas Jefferson. I'm talking about the person whom he called "My dearest friend." Of course, this was Abigail Adams (played with exceptional poise by Laura Linney, THE SQUID AND THE WHALE), his dedicated wife and stalwart confidant. The two were opposite sides of the same coin and proved to be a formidable pairing. When John was angry, Abigail calmed him. When he was writing, Abigail was his editor. When he was away from home (often), she took care of the children, the farm ...everything.
Although this miniseries didn't incorporate all that John Adams was (how could it?), it did perform the prerequisite of showing us a glimpse of a man and how he battled the developing politics of his new country while trying to be the patriarchal leader of his extended family. Being a beer drinking man myself, I couldn't help but pay closer attention whenever Samuel Adams (John Adams' cousin) was mentioned or showed up on screen (played by Danny Huston, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT). Although just a side-note by comparison to the rest of the film, it is topical to mention that John Adams' son, John QUINCY Adams (Ebon Moss-Bachrach, THE LAKE HOUSE), was the first son of a former President to become President himself (but I think he did a tad better at it than our current 'son-of-a-former-President'). These touched-on items added more historical depth to the story and made the viewing audience equally enamored with John Adams even if the man himself was the complete opposite.
This seven part miniseries is exceptional with costumes and sets that play the part just as well as the actors themselves. And if you've forgotten about John Adams' past, well, this is a nice refresher.
This series is an excellent presentation of the complex lives of our
founding fathers with the focus, of course, on John & Abigail. The
extra feature of "facts are stubborn things" that presents additional
historical detail while watching is an excellent feature, and it
answers many questions that may arise as you view.
Giamatti does not look at all like the portraits of Adams, and this is disconcerting in the beginning, but he is such a fine character actor - and this role a character actor's dream, that he is completely believable. I usually find Linney too bland for my taste, but her reserve here is excellent, and this may be her finest acting work on film - where she has this role of such depth - social restraint with great intelligence.
This is a real high point for HBO that shows that they can match the quality of BBC miniseries in historical accuracy, fine scripting, no prurient sex scenes, glorious costumes, and the casting of many British stars. But really, when it comes to period dramas, Hollywood has always preferred to cast Brits over the thousands of capable American stage actors that they don't have time to audition. Meow.
I love that this is one HBO film that makes the marital bed seem much more inviting than an affair. This is excellent. I'm buying the set for my father!
All kinds of tributes here to Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, especially the
use of a lot of the same classical music pieces and some camera work,
such as Laura Linney's looking out from under her elaborate hat at the
end of this episode. A little distracting to those of us who remember
Barry Lyndon, which portrayed very different problems and
relationships. Barry Lyndon was about the inevitable triumph of the
British stiff upper class over the bullheaded Irish upstart. Sort of
the opposite to the American revolution.
I think the music editors were just going for a stately, period sound without worrying too much about the source being inappropriate.
Still, a very interesting series. American politics then and now...I'm looking forward to the next episode, "An Unnecessary War". The acting is really amazing, unlike the acting in Barry Lyndon!
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