On John Adams.

I intend to resume updating my journal with greater regularity once I’ve submitted my National Board portfolio this week. So, this’ll be it for the next week or so:

It’s nice to see the most underrated of our Founders get a little attention from the folks at HBO. The miniseries John Adams is not bad, but Paul Giamatti’s Adams looks a bit woppish and Laura Linney’s Abigail is not quite as hot as portraits of the real deal suggest. David Morse as George Washington looks ridiculous in that prosthetic proboscis. If you’re not going to pick anyone else who looks like their real-life counterpart, why do any different with Washington?

They should’ve recast the whole thing. I can see Giamatti as Franklin, though they’d have to age him. Let’s have Gabriel Byrne as Adams. He’s got an accent, he’s nasty, brutish, and short–a Hobbesian exemplar. Ed Norton as Jefferson. Liam Neeson or Kelsey Grammer as Washington—they’re both tall enough, and somewhat leonine like Washington was.

Actually… they could’ve gone a completely different direction with this. Looking at a particular portrait of Adams, he looked a little bit like a badly balding Chris Penn—but that’d present two problems, the least of which would be Penn’s accent. Never mind, suspend disbelief—cast Harvey Keitel as Franklin and Michael Madsen as Washington. Tim Roth on stilts as Jefferson. Steve Buscemi as the bizarrely sunken-eyed Roger Sherman.

Either way, keep Abigail as is.

The producers seem to have taken no creative liberties whatsoever—the story is progressing pretty much the way it did in real life. Maybe they’ll change it up and have us at war with France in the 1790s, or have Adams win reelection in 1800, or have him fell TJ in a duel—but I doubt it.

The makers have done well to humanize Adams, and the movie seems more of a drama than a documentary… Actually, right now they’re trying to make Adams into an action hero: he just ordered his escort vessel to attack a British pursuer, and fired a flintlock rifle at it—despite just having been ordered by the ship’s captain to go below deck for his own protection. How daring. It’s like a bad cop show. “Dammit, Adams, you’ve got a wife and kids to worry about and just four days to retirement!”

I understand that using a hand-held camera is an attempt to make the viewer feel like they’re in the midst of the heart-pounding action—but when people are sitting around or lying down, hold the damn camera still.

1 Comment

Discupulus ex Abysso Says:

It’s good to see you’ve been following the series as well (or you’ve just seen the one episode). I rather like it, and as the title implies, the point of the series is to humanize and show John Adams a little more then everything around him. I assume it would be too complicated to illustrate both John Adams the man and at the same time go off in a different direction story-wise than what has actually happened. And good to see you’ve finally written again!

Au revoir Monsieur, I await for when you get to write more often.

March 24th, 2008 at 5:04 am