Saturday, December 15, 2012

Lincoln: A


Scott and I saw Lincoln a few weekends ago. I looked forward to seeing this movie ever since I heard a movie about about Lincoln was being made. (I have to admit to some embarrassment when I momentarily mistook this summer's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter for the Steven Spielberg movie.)

Lincoln should be subtitled "Politicking The 13th Amendment" although I understand the studio's reason not marketing the movie's emphasis on the legislative process. I do appreciate that the movie didn't rely on any non-linear or flashback gimmick like so many biopics. Instead, the movie assumed the audience already knew the basics about Lincoln's life and revealed more about the obscure details his life as president.

Before seeing Lincoln, my impression was that he fought for the 13th amendment for more pragmatic reasons rather than being an ardent abolitionist. I was a little concerned that Spielberg was glossing over Lincoln's complicated racial politics in the opening scene. The film opens with two African-American soldiers paying tribute to the president as he sits on an elevated covered platform -- much like people today walk-up the Lincoln Monument today. I did wonder how plausible the scene was that African-Americans would be allowed to address the president; however, it doesn't seem impossible either. I'm not a historian and have to rely upon historians such as Doris Kearns Goodwin whose Lincoln biography the movie was inspired from.

Overall, the movie was great. Well-paced with great performances that made the legislative process seem exciting. My only concern is whether or not the movie whitewashed Lincoln's view on race. My understanding is that Lincoln probably didn't believe in racial equality or civil rights as we understand these values today. However, there's no denying that he made considerable sacrifices to pass the 13th amendment which undermines doubts that Lincoln only opposed slavery to reign-in the South.

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