You'll be seeing stars and stripes as the most fascinating leaders in American history come to life in 1776, a musical about the birth of a nation! With the Boston Harbor still stained from over-taxed British tea, a revolution is brewing in the colonies! And now England has thousands of troops headed for America's shores to squelch her subjects' freedom-loving spirit! It's up to John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to convince a stubborn congress of British colonists to unite as American patriots turn the inevitable war with England into a Declaration of Independence!
The 2002 DVD release of 1776
offers the 168-minute "director's cut" version of the film, which is about 20 minutes longer than the VHS release (though still shorter than the previously released 180-minute laserdisc, which director Peter H. Hunt has said included some material he didn't care for). Among the additions are a main title with overture, an introductory verse to "He Plays the Violin," and more balance to the conservative Southern bloc of the Congress, especially in the musical number "Cool Considerate Men," which--according to Hunt and screenwriter Peter Stone on the DVD's commentary track--was removed at the request of President Nixon and supposed to have been destroyed. Hunt and Stone also offer historical background, comparisons to the original Broadway show (which they also directed and wrote), comments on what the cast is doing 30 years later, and satisfaction with this restoration (perhaps it will also lead to a long-awaited CD release of the soundtrack?). Picture and sound are very good, the widescreen anamorphic picture preserves the film's wide tableaux, and five brief screen tests are worth watching once. In sum, it's a very satisfying and often engrossing treatment of a lesser known but much loved musical. --David Horiuchi