Thursday, August 13, 2009

John Adams DVD - Mini Review

John Adams
HBO Miniseries, Spring 2008

I am embarrassed to admit I have never finished reading John Adams by David McCullough. Early in our marriage my husband and I tried to read it together, aloud before bedtime. We made it maybe two chapters in before that tradition died. Reading before aloud before bedtime just doesn't work for us.

Since then the book has sat on my bookshelf awaiting my renewed interest, but that fact didn't stop me from watching the miniseries adaptation by HBO now available on DVD.

The miniseries is made up of seven 1-hour segments, which shouldn't take very long to watch... but took me four months. I had to borrow the DVD's from my local library at least five times before before I actually finished watching it -- but it was well worth the time.

The miniseries is well made and relatively accurate. I say relatively because I know there were some things left out (any strong focus on Adams' religious beliefs) and there were some things portrayed differently than historians believe is the truth (i.e. Adams' relationship with his youngest son, Charles). But over all it was a very good adaptation of the book... which I now have renewed interest to read.

I though the choice in actors was well made and the settings, costumes, etc. just added to the richness of the film. The only complaint I have outside of the above liberties taken is the sound quality. At times the conversations were so low I could barely make out what was said. I'd turn the volume way up only to be blasted when someone yelled or some loud noise was made. It was a tad annoying.

But that said, my favorite part was actually an extra on the DVD -- an interview with author David McCullough. It's a 39 minute interview covering the life of McCullough and his works. Very interesting and it causes me to retract my previous statement. If I could meet any living author I would choose McCullough. I'd forgotten about him when I answered the meme, but he is definitely someone I'd like to meet.

All this to say... I need to read John Adams. (I've read at least one other McCullough book and it's worth the time it takes to read.) I enjoyed John Adams the miniseries, but know the book will be even better.

For those who haven't seen the miniseries, yes I'd recommend it. But be warned. There are two scenes of nudity. The first is when a man is tarred and feathered, the second is when a women undergoes a mastectomy. There's enough warning for the viewer to look away if you know these instances exist.

For those of you who have seen the miniseries and have read the book -- leave your comments. I'd love to hear what you think.


Carrie said...

I had forgotten about this mini series but when it came out I had wanted to see it! Good to know you watched it and like it.

Thanks for the warnings though. Eww.

And we've never been able to read aloud PERIOD. =) Just doesn't work for us at all!

Sherry said...

I read the book and then watched the TV series. I enjoyed the book very much, but I found that the mini-series brought some scenes (the mastectomy, the barrenness of D.C. when the Adams family moved there) to life for me, scenes that I had skimmed over in reading.

In short, I found that the two media complemented each other and gave me a fuller picture than I would have had by just reading or by just watching.