Reviews: Seventeen Seventy Six

History and Fiction combine for a useful bit of education

No, 1776 does not meet the demands of truly "accurate" historical fiction; however, neither are its story and characterizations created from whole cloth like such films as Braveheart.As such, it remains a film that is both educational to casual historians and still entertaining enough for casual viewers, while not leaning either way far enough to infuriate the more professional members of either category.

The film is driven quite successfully by skilled actors playing multi-faceted roles. None of the major parts can be called two-dimensional, and it's clear the cast enjoyed sinking its teeth into the complex facets and philosophies of the Founding Fathers. Perhaps the greatest advantage of the film is that it manages to give the often austerely-portrayed fathers of the United States a certain irreverence and roughness in their manners and actions while still showing the potential for greatness underneath. Ben Franklin, as portrayed by Howard de Silva, is probably the most immediately memorable and quotable, but it's not long before the audience is paying just as much attention to Adams and Jefferson. And the film captures the atmosphere of the Second Continental Congress perfectly, warts and all.

The films music also blends well with the shifting tone; catchy and engaging songs with light subject matter dominate the first half and establish the characters, while deeper, more foreboding music appears in the second half. Thus the audience will often laugh and enjoy such Ear Worm music as "Richard Henry Lee" or "Mr. Adams," and find itself broadsided by the perfect counterpoint in "Mama" and "Molasses to Rum."

The film does have some serious deviations from the historical record, but considering those deviations often focus on forgotten founding fathers (no one who watches this film will ever forget Richard Henry Lee or John Dickinson) or act as an abridged portrayal of ongoing political conflict (the slavery issue), it won't insult historians if a student starts asking about the actual person.

All in all, this is an excellent film, and an excellent slice of edutainment.

Who knew 1776 was such an amusing year?

1776 is about John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, & Thomas Jefferson all trying to get the rest of Congress to agree to vote for independence, and in a bid to stall for time, end up creating a declaration of independence in the process. They manage to do so, and that's the film.

At least, that's what it is on the surface.

While the film does offer an interesting — and often amusing — look at the history of the declaration, and the people behind it, it also offers some scathing social commentary on Congress on as it was then, and of how it, in some ways, still is today. It's a miracle for Congress to decide on anything, and if they do, either it's something completely inane or unneeded, or if it is worthwhile, it takes them forever to actually make their decision. And they won't always make the best choice. One could say it's why we needed a President, but Congress still holds a fair amount of power, so I think the film's complaints about Congress still hold up.

It also gives some good reasons as to why we just didn't outlaw slavery back in good ol' 1776. The South really didn't want to part with their slaves, and some of you probably already know this. But what some of you may not know, and what the film is clear to point out, is that, despite the North hailing themselves as great slave-free colonies, they're the ones actually responsible for bringing the slaves over; it hits nearly everyone so hard, and it seems that the Declaration is nearly screwed, because the Declaration explicitly called for an outlaw on slavery. Of course, they manage to salvage the situation, but said salvaging includes having to save the outlawing of slavery for a (much,) later time. Sad, but true, and it just goes to show how important forming this new nation was.

In the end, 1776 is a very well-written and fun film that's not afraid to get serious when need-be, which is fairly often. It brings the people behind the declaration to life, while also pointing out that the Congress of yesteryear may not be so different from the Congress of today. I'd say more if I could, but in that absence, I'll just say that if you want a good movie about the Declaration, or are just looking for a fun, tense, well-written movie, then look no further then 1776.

Oh, and the songs are good too. :)

It was good over all

In history class we watched this movie. At first I thought 'meh', but after watching it, I found it to be quite interesting. The premise was good, and the actors were the perfect actors to play their characters. Especially the actor playing John Adams. (I was convinced that he could have actually been John Adams.) It was an overall good movie.
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