John Adams [3-Disc Blu-ray]
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John Adams (BD)
Based on David McCullough's bestselling biography, the HBO miniseries John Adams is the furthest thing from a starry-eyed look at America's founding fathers and the brutal path to independence. Adams (Paul Giamatti), second president of the United States, is portrayed as a skilled orator and principled attorney whose preference for justice over anti-English passions earns enemies. But he also gains the esteem of the first national government of the United States, i.e., the Continental Congress, which seeks non-firebrands capable of making a reasoned if powerful case for America's break from England's monarchy. The first thing one notices about John Adams' dramatizations of congress' proceedings, and the fervent pro-independence violence in the streets of Boston and elsewhere, is that America's roots don't look pretty or idealized here. Some horrendous things happen in the name of protest, driving Adams to push the cause of independence in a legitimate effort to get on with a revolutionary war under the command of George Washington. But the process isn't easy: not every one of the 13 colonies-turned-states is ready to incur the wrath of England, and behind-the-scenes negotiations prove as much a part of 18th century congressional sessions as they do today.
Besides this peek into a less-romanticized version of the past, John Adams is also a story of the man himself. Adams' frustration at being forgotten or overlooked at critical junctures of America's early development--sent abroad for years instead of helping to draft the U.S. constitution--is detailed. So is his dismay that the truth of what actually transpired leading to the signing of the Declaration of Independence has been slowly forgotten and replaced by a rosier myth. But above all, John Adams is the story of two key ties: Adams' 54-year marriage to Abigail Adams (Laura Linney), every bit her husband's intellectual equal and anchor, and his difficult, almost symbiotic relationship with Thomas Jefferson (Stephen Dillane) over decades. Giamatti, of course, has to carry much of the drama, and if he doesn't always seem quite believable in the series' first half, he becomes increasingly excellent at the point where an aging Adams becomes bitter over his place in history. Linney is marvelous, as is Dillane, Sarah Polley as daughter Nabby, Danny Huston as cousin Samuel Adams, and above all Tom Wilkinson as a complex but indispensable Ben Franklin. --Tom Keogh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
If you're looking for action, intricate battle scenes or romance you'll find little here. Instead, "John Adams" looks at the life of the second President of the US from a career and familial point of view. The intellectual exchanges between Adams and Benjamin Franklin, Adams and Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and Jefferson, and last but not least the fascinating exchanges between the congress of 13 states debating the issue of independence are wonderfully done. HBO recreates this cataclysmic moment in history with great purpose immersing the viewer with every spoken word.
The acting is equally superb. Paul Giamatti is electric as John Adams and Laura Linney brings the beauty, grace and intellectual brilliance of Abigail Adams to life.
For those in Canada who are relatively unfamiliar with American history, this HBO mini-series is an excellent primer in understanding the fundamental pillars of the creation of the American republic and how they still impact the way America works today.
I thought the mini-series was also very well done. The acting was great, the way it brought the events to life was breathtaking. I loved the portrayal of Abigail Adams by Laura Linney. This mini-series is definitely worth watching and will have a proud place in my collection.
I have a few little points of contention when it comes to the portrayal of various characters. I thought, for example, the movie made John Adams out to be a little ridiculous at times, putting in words into his mouth in public settings which were actually said in private letters. The demise of his son Charles being a consequence of his lack of parental involvement was not as clear cut in the book as the movie made it seem, nor was John Quincy quite so bullied by his father. The book also makes much more of the duplicity of Thomas Jefferson, the indolence of Benjamin Franklin and the designs of Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson and Franklin still come out as heroes in the movie. Perhaps I bring up these points because the book makes you admire and love John Adams despite his weaknesses. If you enjoyed the mini-series, read the book too. It fills everything out, adds detail and insight, and gives a real appreciation for the Second US President who is so often overshadowed by Washington and Jefferson.
I'll watch it again at some point.
We were not disappointed. The attention to detail was incredible and the narrative was apparently drawn from the extensive contemporary record and the wealth of correspondence between John and Abigail Adams. The superb cast were totally immersed in their characters and portrayed them with depth and sympathy; rotten teeth, warts and all. The performances of Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney (who we'd recently seen in a re-watching of `Love Actually') as John and Abigail Adams were particularly outstanding.
Well done HBO. A possibly risky investment in a lavish but honest re-telling of the formative years of the Union really paid off. We're now looking forward to HBO's impending release of `The Pacific'.
Most recent customer reviews
Great series, although I didn't think Paul's portrayal of John Adams was accurate.Published 1 month ago by D. Collard
Very good, full of historical fact, a must watch for any USA independancy era fansPublished 14 months ago by Frédérick Dozois
This is well filmed...well acted...but a bit slow moving... It takes for granted that you are already aware of details between scenes.. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Artistjohn
Great series if your interested in history, not just American, has lots of relevance to us on the north side of the 49th!Published 19 months ago by the doctor Raz
Absolutely wonderful serie with a dream cast ! Filled with interesting and sometimes unknown facts. If you don't have the time or the patience to read books on the subject, this... Read morePublished 19 months ago by JML-Quebec
I really like Giamatti's film work.
I never met John Adams but the way Giamatti portrays him,
I don't think I would like to meet him. Read more
I actually bought this movie as a gift for my mom. Not really my kind of movie, but she loves historical drama. As those kinds of films go, it's great!Published on Oct. 24 2013 by Langer
It is so hard to relate the time and people of the Revolutionary era to a modern and rather ignorant audience. A very good effort, but perhaps too ambitious a timeline. Read morePublished on Aug. 15 2013 by Nancy I. Pease