This is in response to Danielle’s comment,

Do you know how much of the mini series is actually historically accurate? Most, parts, all, very little? 😀

Well, it is a matter of opinion, of course, but I think that the mini-series is surprisingly accurate. David McCullough, the author, is pretty impressed with it. Here’s a quote from this interview, which he talks about it. Be sure to check the interview out, it talks about his satisfaction some more.

Q: This is an amazing miracle considering what Hollywood …

A: My wife tells me I have to hold back in my praise for what they have done, but I can’t. It’s everything I could have dreamed for, hoped for, and then some. It’s nine hours — they didn’t try to compress everything into an hour and a half. I’ve been on the sets. I’ve been working with Kirk Ellis the whole way through. Very often, filmmakers will buy the rights to a book and then they’ll keep the author as far in the distance as possible.

But… there are numerous differences in historical records and the film. Now, I don’t agree with everything that wikipedia and IMDB and HNN (history news network) say about the mistakes, but they get a few major points correctly. I’ll outline what I see wrong with the movie.

1. John Adams portrayal as a discouraging Father that led to Charles’ death by alcoholism and scorn by John Quincy. This is one detail that I know McCullough and HBO/Kirk Ellis disagreed about. In McCullough’s book, Adams is not linked to his son’s death. Certainly, he impacted his son and Charles had pressure to be successful, but HBO overplays this. Here’s the link to an interview with Tom Hooper, the director, and David McCullough, who talks about that difference of opinion about halfway through.

2. Abigail’s Death/ Writing Jefferson – this would have been an easy fix. The last episode spans, what, 20 or so years, from Nabby’s breast cancer to John’s death. They portray Abigail as dying in 1818, which she did, and THEN Benjamen Rush (who died in 1814 in reality) offering John to reconcile with old Jefferson. Benjamen Rush did help reconcile the two old friends, but it was in 1812, and Abigail even exchanged a few letters (bitter, albeit). This could have been easily fixed and I don’t understand why they wrote it this way. However, this isn’t a huge mistake and I don’t think it detracts from the film as much as the first, which really impacts character.

3. I wrote about how Abigail learned of John going to France. Again, not a huge impact of the film, but it also leaves out her letters to Jonathan Lovell.

4. Wikipedia’s inaccuracies
A lot of these are unimportant or irrelevant to me. In reality, there were two trials of the Boston Massacre, one for Captain Preston, and one for the men. I really don’t think that this matters.
I’m trying to think of other inaccuracies… most of wikipedia’s are minute details.

5. Trips to France – In reality, John came back from France, took John Quincy and Charles (so he completely would have known what all his children looked like) back to France. Then, Abigail traveled to France with Nabby. John Quincy returned to the colonies, where he studied at Harvard. There, Nabby met Colonel William Smith and got married. In the film, Nabby “met” Colonel Smith while her parents were away on diplomatic missions in France and England. So… this could have been easily fixed and it really irks me. Perhaps they didn’t want to take Sarah Polley (Nabby) to Europe (I forget which country they filmed in).

So those are the main inaccuracies which I feel should have been changed. I’m sure there are plenty of others, and I’ll probably write more. Now, I have to study for my AP Euro, AP Stats, French, and Physics midterms and finals.

Oh, and I made a decision. I know David McCullough hasn’t written me (as far as I know) and I don’t think he’s going to (which I understand he probably has piles and piles of mail to answer). I’ve just decided to write other authors whom I really enjoy. Perhaps Edith B. Gelles, who wrote a simply fabulous biography of Abigail Adams which I am reading, or Doris Kearns Goodwin or Gary Wills… Still, when finals are over. I must begin studying now.

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