By Charles Bogle:
8 January 2009
DVD release of the 2008 HBO Miniseries
Directed by Tom Hooper, screenplay by Kirk Ellis
Although the first movie about the American Revolution, D.W. Griffith’s 1776, or The Hessian Renegade, was released one hundred years ago (1909), since that time relatively few movies on the same subject have been produced, and fewer still have been memorable. Hollywood has had a notoriously difficult time applying itself to or making sense of critical episodes of US history for a combination of reasons—ideological, cultural and purely opportunistic.
Television has been responsible for the better representations of the Revolution—for example, 2000’s The Crossing (2000), which focused on George Washington and his decisive victory over the Hessian mercenaries at the Battle of Trenton (1776). Even the 2002 animated series Liberty’s Kids deserves credit for presenting the ideas that informed the revolution to children and young adults.
John Adams, first aired on HBO in early 2008 and now released on DVD, is the latest and in some ways most satisfying rendering of the American Revolution on film. The television series is based on David McCullough‘s 2002 biography of the same name and covers the last 56 years (1770-1826) of John Adams‘ 90-year life. In so doing, the series also treats the whole of the Revolution.