WINNER: TOP 25 LIBERTARIAN FILMS
The Founding Fathers declare American independence from Britain. [Dir: Peter H. Hunt/ William Daniels, Howard da Silva, Ken Howard/ 141 min/ Musical-Dance, Drama/ American Revolution, Libertarian Heroes, Right to Secede]
This musical story of the Declaration of Independence doesn’t have much detailed philosophic or political content, but it does at least support the concept of secession from tyranny and portrays the Founding Fathers in a generally favorable light. It also dramatizes some of the important essentials behind the decision to declare independence—the tension between compromise with and split from England; the division over slavery; the self-doubt as to whether the American armies could win; and the risk of execution for all involved.
Most of the focus of this film is on John Adams, an early advocate of independence. Adams is constantly persuading, cajoling, arguing, and maneuvering to get fellow delegates of the Continental Congress to join him in breaking with England. He counters appeals to home-country patriotism with complaints of taxes, abuses of power, and lost rights. He proposes, with Franklin, that a declaration be written of the reasons justifying American independence. He gets Jefferson to write it and then defends it in Congress against a multitude of proposed changes.
In the end, it’s Adams’s determination that makes possible the unanimous adoption of the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the U.S. Curiously, according to this portrayal, Jefferson works as near subordinate of Adams. Jefferson scholars would likely dispute this view.
Like most films based on stage plays, this one is a cut above average. It’s a light and entertaining film, often amusing, full of witty Franklin quotes and clever musical numbers, but also educational and even inspiring. Two scenes are particularly touching. The first is one in which a young man, wounded in battle, sings about hoping that his mother finds him before he dies; the second is at the close of the film, when the signers of the Declaration courageously add their names to this (at that time treasonous) document.
This film is a good reminder of the intellectual battles and personal sacrifices that went into founding this country. Watching it would be a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July. My favorite quote from the film: “I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace, that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress!”