Sunday, July 11, 2010

Laura Linnie & Paul Giamatti, Tour de Force

HBO ran all seven episodes of the 2008 series John Adams on the Fourth of July weekend, and Dr. Desert Flower DVR'ed them all. I was skeptical, since I best remembered Adams for the Alien & Sedition Acts, and losing his 2nd term in a three way race against Jefferson & Burr where Adams got 20% of the electoral college and Jefferson & Burr split (evenly) the other 80% - a rather poor showing for a sitting president.

I had no idea of what an angry, spiteful, unpleasant ancient man he became as he ungracefully aged to finally die at 90. 90, in the 1800s, is like 120 or 130 today. I am very glad I was not one of his sons. A great patriot, a remarkable thinker and dedicated man, yes. But oh so unpleasant! How Abigail Adams ever put up with him I Do Not Know. Laura Linney as Abigail gave a powerful performance. Giamatti, man, can he act. Portraying a couple in their late 30s, up though their 80s, in all their beauty & ugliness, strengths & weaknesses, courage & fears. I found myself captivated, watching it - the fact that I threw out my knee on Tuesday night added to be captivity perhaps =)

...but HBO did a fine job on the mini-series. They REALLY made each historical character LOOK like the characters we have on US currency, that are sculpted and painted in Washington DC, and Mt.Vernon, and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and elsewhere. Yellow fever, small pox, drinking alcohol with every meal (to avoid dysentery), treaties with the French & British... so many nuances I was not fully aware of the Impact they had on everyday life and the course of human events at the time. It's well worth a watch if you've not seen it.

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