Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Adams Family

While on hiatus from Filmmaking 101 one of the things I did was watch the remarkable HBO mini-series John Adams. The series was based on David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize winning biography of our second president, John Adams. The series stars Paul Giamatti as Adams and Laura Linney as Abigail Adams, David Morse as George Washington and the always terrific Tom Wilkinson as Ben Franklin.

The show was excellent on many levels, not the least of which was the craft of filmmaking. Combining period costumes and exteriors (Colonial Williamsburg) with state of the art graphics- 18th century Philadelphia and the White House were recreated in a computer- brought the early years of our country to life.

The film made me think about the guts our founding fathers had to divorce themselves from Mother England on the hope that things would be better. Given that our fledgling country had no currency, constitution or nation government, this was no small risk taken.

The other thing that struck me was what an unusual lead character John Adams makes. Unlike the convenient heroes of our country- warriors, noble men, victims with a cause, crusaders- John Adams was a cantankerous, cranky, sarcastic, talkative New Englander. He never met an argument he felt he couldn't win. He stood up for what he believed even when it wasn't popular. He fought authority, he did what he felt was right, and he made enemies of powerful people.

Dale Carnegie he was not.

A few summers ago I went to a family reunion on my mother's side and saw my future and my past. Almost all the men there were cantankerous, sarcastic, talkative and bald. I was proud to be there because I, too, am an Adams. The HBO film, like the family reunion, showed me my past and my future- warts and all.

See the mini-series it is worth the effort. And for this one time I will sign off with my full name.

Peter Adams Hawley


Anonymous said...

your not really related to john adams, are you????

PeterH said...

Yes I am. John, John Quincy, cousin Sam Gertrude (my grandmother) the whole lot of them.


denise said...

too funny-i can see it! cantankerous and sarcastic, but not bald!