Film Review: John Adams

HBO’s miniseries John Adams.

I caught this one by accident on July 4th, and was taken by the authenticity of the series. I then “Tivo’d” the whole thing and I’ve finally finished watching the series.

I was taken first by the style of the film-making itself, a non-glamourous way of telling the story. I’m sure there was some literary license in the dialog, but the cinematography struck me as the best for this era of history as the work in “Barry Lyndon” over 30 years ago. I hunted for info and I’ve yet to find any online articles, but they archived a very natural look to the film, especially in the indoor scenes lit by candle.

The story itself is very, very accurate and gives a nice angle on the US’ early years, the birth of a nation and the struggles early on by all factions in creating a government from scratch. The birth of the party system, the intrigues in the elections, the back-stabbing and bickering of strong willed individuals seeking office.

The series offers stark contrast to our modern times of comfort and safety. Congress at this time was more like the way British Parliament is now, the speakers shouted at, shouted down, arguing…

My favorite scene is when Abigale Adams is reading some newspapers about John Adams, calling the President a toothless, crippled old curmudgeon. John replies with “I’m not crippled”… all set to the counterpart of Schubert’s Piano Trio… (again, this took me back to Barry Lyndon)

Go rent this one. I call it 5 stars.

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