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Thomas Jefferson Movies & TV

Thomas Jefferson—a Film by Ken Burns (1997)

The king of the PBS documentary does it again. It features beautiful imagery, historical reenactments, interviews with brilliant Jefferson scholars, and Burns' trademark documentary music. It covers all of Jefferson's life, in just about three hours. Highly recommended.

Founding Brothers (2002)

The History Channel takes a crack at adapting Joseph Ellis' Pulitzer prize-winning group portrait of the revolutionary generation. It's a long special, and touches on all the founding fathers, not just Jefferson, but it's a fun watch, and paints a richer portrait of Jefferson for putting him into his generational context.

John Adams (2008)

We know, not actually Thomas Jefferson. But Jefferson makes major cameos. Adams and Jefferson had the longest and most tumultuous relationship of all the founding fathers. Watch Paul Giamati as John and Laura Linney as Abigail as they struggle over what to do with that pesky Jefferson, played by Stephen Dilane. Come on, it's HBO!

1776 (1972)

The Hollywood adaptation of the classic Broadway musical. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and check it out from your local library. You have not understood the struggles of the American Revolution until you've seen John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson sing off over what bird should be America's mascot.

Jefferson in Paris (1995)

Movies may get worse than this, but not much. Watch Nick Nolte as Thomas Jefferson and Gwyneth Paltrow as his daughter, as they film explore what Jefferson's life in Paris might really have been like. In this version, that mostly involves a sordid affair with Sally Hemings. Watch it at your own risk.

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