March 25, 2008
Review - " John Adams " (HBO miniseries) - By Ken Ellis
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"John Adams" is a decidedly ambitious project, covering the life of the second US President, based on the bestseller by
historian David McCullough. While the film version seems to, at times, gloss through certain events in history, it does
cover quite a long time. The story begins in 1770, where Adams, upon returning to Boston, is thrust into the trial of one
of the more famous incidents in American history - the Boston Massacre. Called upon to serve as defense attorney for
the British soldiers accused of murder, he applies himself totally, believing in law & justice above all. His court prowess is
hardly Perry Mason; Giamatti's Adams is many things,actually. He plays Adams as a self-righteous man who masks his
insecurity with arrogance. He is a somewhat fearful man who has a strong center in his beliefs in justice and liberty and is
determined to fight for them nonetheless. He brings a wooden historical character to life in a manner not commonly seen
in these types of film. Laura Linney's Abigail Adams is also equal to the task, playing her as Adams full partner in his life
and career, while publicly remaining the 'good wife' that was expected in those days.
The series also does a good job with the costumes and sets, taking Boston from it's current MBTA / Red Sox / Big Dig
persona back to a time in which the Old North Church was the tallest structure in the city. The Old State House is still in
use in many scenes and anyone who knows the history of the city will be fascinated in how they brought Old Boston back
I look forward to seeing the rest of this series and watch Jefferson, Washington, Franklin and Paine come to life as well.
Based on what I have seen so far, I have every reason to beleive they will be as real as they were back then and even
more real than Obama, Clinton, McCain and Bush.
My score: 7.5
(exclusive to the Delta Films website!):
Review: "John Adams"
(HBO miniseries - part one "Join or Die")
An HBO Films / Playtone release. Directed by
Tom Hooper, Written by Kirk Ellis; based on the
book by David McCullough. Starring Paul
Giamatti and Laura Linney.