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Reviewed by: John Dickerson

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
6 to Adult
148 min.
Year of Release:

Looking for a history lesson that will go down easy with the help of several musical numbers and a bit of comedy tucked in? “1776”, an adaptation of the popular Broadway production, could be your cup of tea (if you don’t gag on the liberties taken with historical facts and figures as well as numerous flippant uses of God’s name).

The film, which takes place almost entirely within the confines of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, details in a lighthearted way the struggles of Continental Congress leading up to the July 4th signing of our nation’s Declaration of Independence. Viewers will learn the names and some background of just about every delegate to the congress, with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson (portrayed by William Daniels, Howard DaSilva and Ken Howard, respectively), of course, taking center stage.

As a musical, this war-time film actually shows no violence, though the pain of death and loss in conflict is alluded to in one tender song. While there is no nudity or sex depicted, there is some innuendo regarding relations between Jefferson and his wife Martha, and mention made of some debauchery among some patriots in New Jersey. Easily the most offensive element of this G-rated movie is the many casual blasphemies uttered, especially by John Adams, who by most historical counts, was actually a very godly man. While these profanities may be minor relative to much of today’s entertainment (“Oh, God,” “My God,” “Damn you”), they are nonetheless irritating because of their frequency and because they demean a Christian hero in addition to God Almighty.

While God’s name is taken lightly (in vain) by the film’s principal figures, Christians can still see that only His hand could have orchestrated the amazing set of circumstances necessary to birth this nation. “1776” offers lots of fun and music, but one of David Barton’s Christian videos, such as “America’s Godly Heritage,” would certainly afford a more honest and edifying portrayal of this country’s history.