After watching 1776 there were many aspects that stood out to me that we talked about in class and were also present in the movie. I think that the discussion of gender roles and social class division was very evident in the movie. For example, while the dialogue between John and Abigail Adams seemed loving there was still a clear power dynamic between the two. Abigail was sitting at home waiting for her husband to come home while John was busy with his important work. Additionally, the dynamic between the custodian and the congressional delegates was an important division between social class. The custodian was clearly in a lower social class while the delegates are all wealthy and hold a great deal of power. I think that this contributes to the ideas we’ve been discussing about history being written by the victors and Zinn’s chapter from Monday’s class about the American Revolution. There’s such a focus on the wealthy men’s wants and perspective on declaring independence but we get no perspective from the common man such as the custodian. Just like how only one fifth to one third of the population was for the American Revolution, we can’t tell what proportion of the colonists were for declaring independence because the emphasis is always on the people in power.
Another aspect that stood out to me after discussing the connotations of various portraits of leaders was the inclusion of Benjamin Franklin getting his portrait painted. This scene drew a sharp distinction between different types of leaders and approaches to leadership. On one end Franklin is depicting his social status and wealth by paying someone to paint a portrait of him in a powerful position. On the other end we see Adams very passionate about his work and being painted in a more personable light as he writes letters back and forth to his wife. We also hear him say “I’m not promoting John Adams. I’m promoting independence.” This gives the impression that Adams is less worried about his socials status and more interested in pushing the agenda that he thinks is best for the people. This relates back to the portraits because we also see these two sides of leaders when looking at Lincoln’s and Washington’s portraits versus the candid photographs we saw of Obama. There’s one side to the leaders that is focused on power, wealth and status while the other side emphasizes personality and passion.
I think that the elements of comedy that were incorporated into the movie made it hard decide whether the movie was an accurate depiction of the historical event. The movie itself also seems to show the perspective only of the delegates and not of the common people so even if the movie is accurate to the political elite’s perspective, it’s just a portion of the sentiments that were shared during this time. This made me think how difficult it must be to make a historically accurate movie because you can only create a movie from one point of view so there will always be several voices left out.