Sam Neill Update: Thomas Jefferson, Tennis Dad, and a Somber Narrator

I can’t find my camera to take pictures of my new apartment, so you get some Sam Neill instead!!! I realized today that I screwed up my own spreadsheet awhile ago when updating it, so the figures I’ve been giving you the past few updates have been wrong. I’m actually only 85% done with this project. Don’t even pretend to be disappointed, I know you’re super psyched that you still get to read all about Sam Neill. Also, I watched all of these before the move, so it’s been awhile and I can’t remember all of the hilarious details. If there were any hilarious details. These were all kind of depressing, in different ways.

Sally Hemings: An American Scandal (2000 TV movie)

Steven was so excited to see Sam Neill play Thomas Jefferson, he went so far as to lift his “You’ve burned me once too often, Sam” ban on helping me with this project.

You’d think he’d look a little more enthused, right?

The Movie: Sally Hemings is a teenage slave when her relationship with Thomas Jefferson begins, when she accompanies his daughter to join him when he’s ambassador to France. TJ realizes she’s smart (and hot) so he takes an interest in her education, leading to a life-spanning love affair that causes major drama, both within the Jefferson family (thanks, bitchy daughters) and on the political stage of the country at large. Sally is apparently the half-sister of Jefferson’s dead wife, and most of the children she has with him look white but are still slaves, leading to awkward questions and misunderstandings. At Jefferson’s death at the end, Sally reveals to Bitchy Daughter Number 1 that she has been free this whole time and she’ll do what she wants now, thanks. Go girl.

Yeah, that wig is doing nothing for you, Sam

The Character: Steven says Sam Neill is good, but just isn’t “his” Thomas Jefferson.

I assume he’d prefer this one

I thought he did an okay job, especially at selling the dichotomy between Jefferson’s personal feelings for Sally and his public actions in regards to slavery. He was kind of overshadowed by how awesome Carmen Ejogo was as Sally, which was probably what the film was going for anyway. Sally is not going to take shit from you, even if you are the president, and you are just going to have to deal with that. Okay, so I may have girl powered out a little while watching this.

What I Learned: James T. Callender was super mad when Thomas Jefferson wouldn’t appoint him postmaster general. I had no idea postmaster general was such a coveted position. I guess, hey, all the stamps you want.

You should watch this if: You like really long historical pieces and/or Thomas Jefferson

Wimbledon (2004)

Kirsten Dunst, laughing at the direction her career has taken

The Movie: Peter Colt is a tennis player, but not a great one. He’s played by the same guy who was that creepy, self-flagellating priest in The Da Vinci Code, so that was also distracting. Anyway, it’s his last year at Wimbledon, and he meets and falls in lust with up-and-coming tennis star Kirsten Dunst. They have a love affair, which seems to be really helping Peter’s game, but really hurting hers. Of course they have the obligatory argument about whether he loves tennis more than her, he declares his love on national TV, and he wins Wimbledon and the girl as per the prescribed formula for these movies. I told you this week was depressing.

Sam Neill, trying to be reasonable in the face of all this cliche

The Character: Obvs Sam Neill plays her controlling, disapproving father! He’s so good at that, after all. He’s also her tennis coach, and you can’t really get mad at him because he does have a point. Flirting and spending all her time with Peter is hurting her game. I guess, like all dads, he just doesn’t understand that TRUE LOVE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TENNIS OMG.

What I Learned: Professional tennis players are all self-centered, superstitious jerks.

You should watch if: you like formulaic romantic comedies; your dad keeps getting in the way of your relationship

Gallipoli (2005)
Not to be confused with the 1981 Mel Gibson movie of the same name.

I’d probably still take this over more Wimbledon

The Movie: Much like SuperCroc, this was a documentary that Sam Neill narrated. Unlike Supercroc, I was less interested in the subject matter, but Sam Neill’s co-narrator was Jeremy Irons so I was okay with it.

Feel free to tell me everything you know about WWI, preferably in song form

I really wish Sam Neill would start narrating audio books, because he would be way good at it. Every time I can’t finish an audio book because the narrator’s voice is too annoying, I hope that someday, when he’s too old to play disapproving dads, Sam Neill will make this dream a reality. All you have to do is watch one of his documentaries to see how awesome this would be!!

What I Learned: I actually knew something about this campaign from the Louis de Bernieres book, Birds Without Wings, but that account is so lyrical and personal, it was interesting to find out what really happened in the big picture.

You should watch if: you like looking at black-and-white historical photos; being sad about humanity

Previously: Losing My Mind Edition
Next: Playing Both Sides Edition

One response to “Sam Neill Update: Thomas Jefferson, Tennis Dad, and a Somber Narrator”

  1. Caitlin says:

    One of my supervisors is really into TJ. Virginia had a law that freed slaves had to leave the state after a brief period of time, so historians speculate that TJ didn’t free Sally and her children because they would have had to leave. He did set down terms in his will that they would be freed a few months after his death. Also, there were repeat occurrences where his paler children would “steal” money conveniently left out on his desk and then “unexpectedly disappear.” This may have been planned. It’s interesting to speculate, anyway.

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