Washington is a three-part documentary cum drama miniseries on the life of George Washington, the first President of the United States of America. Now, I have personally avoided these kinds of historical ‘docudramas’ believing that a dramatised documentary would be neither good documentary or drama. However, the excellence of Washington may have got me rethinking this approach.
For those unfamiliar with how these ‘docudramas’ work, there are essentially three components. First, there is the narrator who frames the historical events being presented, then there are interviews of relevant experts in history who will provide considered analysis of those same events and finally, the dramatisation of said events. When these three elements come together seamlessly and with dynamic synergy – like they do in Washington – then the result is a ‘docudrama’ of the highest quality.
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In terms of narrator, Washington had enlisted the actor Jeff Daniels to deliver his lines with the right amounts of authority and emotional resonance. For expert views, we have the likes of former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, prize-winning historians like Joseph Ellis and Annette Gordon Read et al.
Best of all, the drama is powerfully delivered mainly by actor Nicholas Rowe, who is a convincing Washington, and competent supporting cast. Considering that much of the miniseries is focused on the American Revolutionary War, the battle scenes are also realistically staged – well enough for the purpose of this ‘docudrama’ in any case.
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Washington does a great job in reflecting upon the significance of the man’s life as it impacts the birth of the USA and the establishment of the office of the Presidency. As one commentator aptly stated, perhaps his achievements have been marginalised over time but this ‘docudrama’ allows the viewer the luxury of appreciating the true value of what the great man had achieved.
It is also worthy to note that the ‘docudrama’ does not whitewash’ the subject’s own history with enslaved people – he most certainly thought of his slaves as his property. Though on the other hand, there were other mitigating circumstances concerning his attitudes towards slavery, there is a full and frank discussion nonetheless.
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Guess it’s time I explore other similar ‘docudramas’ out there! Highly recommended.
… still there’s more …