Tuesday, March 25, 2008

John Adams Miniseries- Part 2 - Independence

Just some quick thoughts on Part 2 of the HBO miniseries. HBO did run this back to back with Part 1 last week, luring people with the excitement of 2 full hours of drama.

Part 2, entitled Independence, picks up at the First Continental Congress. I'm paralleling my reading of McCullough's John Adams with the mini-series and notice that HBO has decided to take what Adams wrote in his journals and use it in the dialog in Adams' conversations. It's a much better strategy than that of a voice over, which to me can be a distraction.

Once again, many great events in American history are referenced and not highlighted, and for good reason. It must be noted that these are the trials and tribulations of John Adams and not an overview of the Revolution, and thus Lexington and Concord warrants only a mention in passing. So if you're wondering when you're going to see George Washington at Valley Forge, you won't.. but pay attention, it is alluded to.

Ben Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson reading the Declaration of IndependenceAnother observation I found curious was the editing of Jefferson's version of the Declaration of Independence. In the past, I've seen it as being picked apart by many of the Delegates in front of the entire Congress. Director, Tom Hooper, has decided that it was edited in private by Adams, Ben Franklin and Jefferson at Jefferson's apartment. Like the image to the left. This idea would fit to be more realistic as it was a document that had not yet been presented in any way, shape or form to the Congress, and it would seem that it should be perfected before doing so.

The final vote for Independence, which required a unanimous decision was very well done, though not as dramatic as the one I'm more familiar with in the musical 1776. But on that note, the reading of the Declaration of Independence is effectively passionate, as it starts with John Hancock, President of the Congress, and moves to Adams' daughter reading amongst Abigail and her siblings, and then to an assembly in front of the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall).

The voting and the reading of the Declaration of Independence can be effective if shown in class. Especially if followed with 'The Price They Paid', which is a reading about what happened to the 56 delegates after signing the Declaration. I also challenged my students to take it even a step further to see if they could prove if all the stories about the Delegates were true. They're not all true... See for yourself.

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