Susan Year Itch: I’ll write my own history, thank you

I have found very little in the storehouses of moviedom to satisfy a need I have – the need to encourage you all to hang with the Founding Fathers. So, I have put together a proposal for what I think would blow up as a big summer blockbuster while educating the masses.

How can this possibly be the case: I can’t think of any hilarious or dramatic or romantic or even just pedantic movies about the origins of the American Revolution!  My intent was to blather on about the Founding Fathers and my strange yet deserved love of the historical period surrounding that heady half of the 18th Century, following it up with four or five flicks for you to check out (all of which would be rife with both fifes and drums), and then closing out with an obligatory joke about how my husband is worried I will leave him for TJ-with-a-time-machine.

Oh yes! I know my own formula! Here is where I interject with a sentence!

Well, laugh it up, fuzzballs, because for the life of me, I couldn’t think of anything besides 1776, that glorious musical that centers around a comically frustrated John Adams and his insistence on independence to a Congress who is more concerned about it being hot as Hell in Phil-a-del-phi-a. Though I can (and will) sing (and dance) every part of that film from beginning to end (email me for a private performance), I have a feeling that this enthusiasm won’t be easy to instill in anyone who didn’t watch this movie 400 times during their adolescence.*

Then of course, there’s John Adams, the much lauded HBO miniseries that was filmed in part in nearby Colonial Williamsburg, using the production talents of many Richmond folks. Informative and thorough, the series deserves a close viewing, but it’s the kind of thing that requires a few very cold nights in addition to a comfortable couch and sweatpants.

No, what I’m after is something more sensational, and I can’t understand why it doesn’t exist. How easy would it be to put together a big Founding Father epic with a huge cast of stars that combined war, romance, and patriotism into one big bundle? I mean, the Civil War has those all over the place! Can we not pay homage to the people whose philosophies and diligence actually CREATED our country? Yeah, Lincoln did whatever and World War II was nutso, but there were actual people who planned out how our entire country was going to go and defied a giant empire so that they could actually make it happen. Wrap your head around that! I spent an hour today trying to figure out how to avoid running an errand to the bank tomorrow because it’s just too much trouble! I can’t even fathom country creation!

Since all of the elements are there, but the films don’t seem to be (with my finger on my Netflix queue, I eagerly await the comments of anyone who has some examples that prove me wrong), I have put together a proposal for what I think would blow up as a big summer blockbuster while educating the masses. And no, it’s not Depp playing Jefferson, Downey, Jr. playing Adams, and Jude Law playing Hamilton, OK? I’m not entirely a one-trick pony over here.

Eagle’s Landing (201?)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Before the Civil War, before the Great Depression, before Frank Sinatra and McDonald’s and Michael Phelps, a handful of gentlemen with shapely calves hatched a plan that would change the face of the world forever. In this long-awaited prequel to just about everything we know, taciturn, deadly George Washington teams up with dashing visionary Thomas Jefferson and small, sharp-tongued John Adams to defeat the villainous tyrant King George and his league of terrifying Redcoats. When the three meet the headstrong and impetuous beauty Betsy Ross, a jealousy-fueled rift nearly separates them until Betsy manages to stitch together a plan that requires them to put their powdered-wigged heads together and catapult Jefferson over the Atlantic, displaying to the world the Declaration of Independence, which he has written on his person using primitive tattoos during a fortnight in an evil English prison.

In an epic clash of CGI armies, the Atlantic then foams with ironclad action and the shores swarm with the red fury of the English. Washington and his band of ragtag soldiers charge into battle as Adams rings the Liberty Bell with a cracking fury. Hundreds of civilians grab muskets and pitchforks and stream coastward from their farms to fight the fight of the oppressed. Native Americans look on, reassuringly. Despite their pluck, all does not go perfectly for the untrained and outnumbered underdog. In one desperate moment, the battle seems to be lost for the new Americans as the giant, heavily armed Redcoats push them further and further back. King George, riding a dragon and covered in glittering, jeweled armor, surprises Washington on the beaches of Delaware, where the magnanimous general has paused to help a grateful Shawnee child to safety amid the clashing violence of battle. Defenseless, Washington nobly faces defeat at the point of King George’s diamond sword, but at the last moment, a gleaming Jefferson swims across the ocean, bursts from the surf, and invents the machine gun on the spot. King George surrenders, and Freedom is bestowed upon white Americans, with absolutely zero help from the damn French.

Starring Jude Law as Betsy Ross and Robert Downey, Jr. as the Liberty Bell, with a special appearance by Johnny Depp as Freedom.

*It’s not my fault! My mother would only buy VHS tapes of musicals she loved, and that is the reason why I have never seen Goonies, but have fond memories of reenacting Oklahoma! for my parents in the basement with a cowboy hat and a rocking horse.

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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