Road to Independence
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The year is 1774 and John Adams, a brash, young lawyer from Boston has just been appointed to the 1st Continental Congress. He is obnoxious and not very well liked until he meets the quiet, pleasant young man named Thomas Jefferson. These men along with Ben Franklin (Emmy Award winner Jay Thomas) George Washington and Patrick Henry discover that 2/3 of American colonists have no interest in their "glorious cause". Undaunted they embark on one of history's most famous yet incorrectly told epochs. Director Mike Church takes us on an exciting sometimes hilarious journey down America's Road to Independence.
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Mike Church has really hit it out of the park this time! The Road to Independence tells a much-abused story in a thrilling way that is (get ready for it) historically accurate. Finally! No other movie does it so well. --Kevin R C Gutzman, JD, PhD Professor of History Western Connecticut State University
In his stunning new animated film, The Road to Independence, Mike Church challenges the prevailing notions, such as they are, regarding the American Founding. Neither Abraham Lincoln nor Ronald Reagan, he notes, were of the Founding generation, but, within the political right especially, these two men greatly have fundamental shaped our understanding of 1776 and 1787. And, from the opening of the film to its end, Church points out that the prevailing interpretations of the Declaration of Independence especially if focused on all men are created equal are, at best, misinterpretations of the text and of the historical moment in which the text was written. He does this through Jefferson s own words from a 1821 interview. Indeed, the entire film is based on original research and primary documents, all of which reveal the essence of the Revolution. From a cinemagraphic standpoint alone, there is much to love in this movie. Some of the visuals are simply stunning, as are many of the camera angles and movements. The backgrounds, especially, are always interesting. In one modern scene, for example, an eager, intelligent student attempts to answer a question. Near this bespectacled boy sits a cynical girl, chained to her cell phone, a slave to texting, while the teacher professes what is true and best about the American Founding. In the background of this classroom, the famous picture of Friedrich Hayek, taken at the Institute for Humane Studies in the 1970s, hangs on the wall. It s a nice and important touch; he looks friendly and bemused. In the scenes from the 1770s, the animators have captured the essence of the time and of the Founders. John Adams is brilliant, driven, anxious, and full of integrity. He clearly loves Abigail (presented as extremely attractive), and teases her. Jefferson is pompous and stern, learned. Franklin is befuddled and dumpy. Dickinson is handsome and overly confident. Washington is, naturally, ramrod straight, and he suffers no fools. Mason is bright, inquisitive, and argumentative. John Quincy Adams is young, eager to please his father. Martha Washington is fearsome and wise. Colonel Patterson is effeminate and sniveling. Discussions or laws, rights, balance, and sovereignty abound throughout the movie. Virtue and manhood matter as well. Only those who are willing to fight for their rights (God given or not) have the right to enjoy liberty and independence. Church does an excellent job of making the ideas real; he also shows how important struggle and integrity are to any struggle and especially the willingness not to compromise for the sake of convenience or expediency. The animators have chosen to focus on the eyes and the mouth of each person capturing his or her personality while leaving the bodies rather stiff. The effect works, as it forces the viewer to consider the deep character of each participant of the story. Perhaps the best animation, though, comes from the opening credits. As the words of the Declaration scroll onto the screen, the name of all of those involved appears, then disappear, as the correct words of the Declaration continue. It s a brilliant and captivating effect. If the estimate given at the Internet Movie Database is correct, Founding Father Films spent over 125,000 dollars producing this film. After watching it, I have no doubt this is true. This is a film worth watching over and over again. There are many layers to it, and, while it moves quickly in terms of story and visuals, it also demands an intelligent eye and an active mind to enjoy it fully. It will prove equally effective as a movie in lassrooms, in church and civic meeting halls, and in family rooms. It is certainly scholarly and well researched, but it is also, at times, properly mischievous and intelligent, artful as well as direct. --Bradley Birzer, Professor of History, Hillsdale College
There are so few movies out there about American history that are truly accurate. And few of those are the kind from which you truly learn something. The Road to Independence, an animated movie, is one of them. It s the story of the Founding Fathers debate whether or not to declare independence from the British and how from 1774 to 1776, we were headed on a path in which independence was unlikely to happen. This movie is especially good for family viewing and educating school-aged children and even college and grad students on something they ll never learn elsewhere. The movie involves Thomas Jefferson, in old age, recounting to a newspaper reporter, what happened in his philosophical fight and debate for America s independence. We not only see the debate between the states at the Continental Congress, but also General Washington s demoralized discussions with his wife about the state of his troops during the fighting in the Revolutionary War. We also see the battle plan that eventually beat the British at Bunker Hill and the battle plans for Long Island. John Dickinson, one of Pennsylvania s delegates to both the First and Second Continental Congresses, eventually become Governor of that state. But he wasn t that gung ho on the whole independence thing, speaking out fervently against it and being moved out of voting on it so that the vote would be unanimous. In opposing the Declaration of Independence, Dickinson demands that we wait until France (and other foreign powers) recognizes the new American state and establishes foreign relations. Huh? We were supposed to let our independence ride on the whim of the Frogs? That was Dickinson s position. And he had a lot of others among the Founding Fathers considering his position. But, in the movie and his real life dialogue, Dickinson s words show something I ve always known about the Founders, even those who opposed independence or strongly debated it. He and all of the Founders no matter whether they were loyalists to the King or ready to move on to our own nation were men of great intelligence, intellect, and oratorical and written skill, whose depth was so immense that today s leaders and elected officials almost all of them from both major parties are embarrassingly bankrupt in comparison. We were so lucky to have such great men developing this inchoate nation. We are so unfortunate, today, to have the morons, ne er-do-wells, and frauds, who simply are insects urinating on the sidewalk in comparison to such giants like Jefferson, Dickinson, and Adams. You knew that. I knew that. But this movie really brings it out in such a stark way. But Road to Independence isn t just Jefferson and Dickinson. John Adams plays quite a big role in the movie. And he s shown contrary to most contemporary portrayals as kind of a slob, in both appearance, dress, and demeanor. But a brilliant, patriotic slob. Mike Church, who is truly a scholar of American history, says that this was the real Adams, and he wanted to capture and bring that forth. His wife isn t sure he should be so involved in the forefront of America s independence, and neither is he, at first. But, then, he is resolved to go forth. And he really shoots down the more polished (at least, in appearance) Dickinson s arguments against the new nation emerging. It s debate like that you rarely see today, and definitely don t see in a Congress. There are also the best and some of the greatest speeches given by Patrick Henry and Benjamin Franklin (played by Jay Thomas). We know the ending: America eventually declared independence, and we became a nation. But it s how we almost didn t get there and the heated debate between great men that is well presented here. --Debbie Schlussel-Nationally Syndicated Film Critic
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The clash with Britain and the need to protect ourselves from British actions are well documented in the video, and this is what makes it worth watching. But the writer seems determined to make the case that there was no idealistic interest in creating a new, better form of government for the benefit of its citizens. To further that point, Jefferson is shown being interviewed late in life, and saying the point was independence, not to create something new. In terms of the point of concensus among delegates in July 1776, that was probably true.
However it is not possible to read either the public articles or the private letter of the leaders and not see that they realized something new was being created. This is as true of leaders considered moderate pragmatists (Adams, Hamilton, Jay, Washington, and sometimes Madison) as it is of those given to more "revolutionary" or utopian musings (Paine, Jefferson, and sometimes Madison).
The bottom line is that this is worth viewing despite it being centered around an odd argument.
I usually watch an entire movie, even if I'm not crazy about it. After all, some movies present me with a reason I wanted to stay to the end. I turned this off after about 15 minutes. I just couldn't stand the boredom any longer. Sorry folks. This was a waste of my time.
I'm not sure who the intended audience is, but this misses kids (did I mention the animation? ), middle schoolers - they can spot the mistakes with little trouble, or adults who do not appreciate being talked down to.
If you are interested in the period, read either Shaara's Rise to Rebellion or McCullough's 1776, a masterwork. You will appreciate making the effort.
I teach U S History and this video does not.
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