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John Adams [3-Disc Blu-ray]

Paul Giamatti , Laura Linney    Unrated   Blu-ray
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 62.48
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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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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Birth of a Nation Aug. 5 2008
In this 7-part miniseries HBO has captured what Historian Gordon Wood describes as "The Radicalism of the American Revolution". As a Canadian, I had to wait until the DVD release but it was well worth the wait.

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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as the book Nov. 20 2008
By R. Doig
I read the Pullitzer Prize winning book, John Adams, by David McCullough, not realizing it had been made into a mini-series. The book was excellent. Despite being a 700+ page historical biography, it actually held my attention, kept me up late and night and reduced me to tears in places, especially when it recounts how John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
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.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's like being there ... Sept. 6 2008
I am no history major, just a history buff, and as such, this series blew me away. Very well acted, un-manicured, beautiful settings, quality stuff with lots of extras. The documentary about Mccullough's writing habits is excellent. It makes you want to know more aout this time and place in history. Now proudly sits on the shelf next to another Tom Hanks masterpiece, Band of Brothers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John Adams June 17 2010
Excellent mini-series depicting the life of one of the U.S. first President's. Great acting by all and even better cinematography made for a wonderful viewing experience. A must-see for all, as an educational tool on the birth of America and particularly, the Constitution. And I'm Canadian!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am completely blown away! Well done... Dec 21 2008
By Winston
I should admit this has completely blown me away. Probably the best TV show in years. Great acting and story line. Wonderfully done. Paul Giammati is just great as John Adams. The tv shows shatter the cliches and framed historical characters we hear about every day. Also, the viewers get to see the birth of the USA as a nation and a republic. I didn't know that Jefferson was so revolutionary and passionate about revolting against the status quo. And I had no idea about the role the Netherlands had played in the American revolution and I consider myself an Americophile. So much to learn and enjoy. Highly recommended, especially to clueless youngsters of our time. Job well done.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must watch! Nov. 22 2010
By Geoff
Wonderfully filmed series. I've read some history and it seems the movies were done as true as possible. A true scholar might find some holes, but overall the series does a great job showing what the world was like in the late 18th century.
I'll watch it again at some point.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating review of creation of USA Feb. 20 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Historical drama that gives a balanced history of how the colonies reluctantly created the USA. Learned about the character of the founders.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it but for it to have been great Aug. 8 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is well filmed...well acted...but a bit slow moving... It takes for granted that you are already aware of details between scenes..
I enjoyed it but for it to have been great...I should be more aware of the facts of American History... my bad
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by June L Sanders
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series if your interested in history
Great series if your interested in history, not just American, has lots of relevance to us on the north side of the 49th!
Published 3 months ago by the doctor Raz
5.0 out of 5 stars A must to learn about USA first steps into being an independant...
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 more
Published 3 months ago by JML-Quebec
5.0 out of 5 stars Giamatti for President!
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
Published 8 months ago by Ken Walker
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Flick
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 12 months ago by Langer
3.0 out of 5 stars A big story.
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 more
Published 14 months ago by Nancy I. Pease
3.0 out of 5 stars history at its best
tho' this film does bog down in politics, it is a great portrayal of the birth of a nation. and the personalities that pulled the idea of independence and nationalism together. Read more
Published 16 months ago by katherine murphy
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