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Sat Nov 10, 2012, 03:24 PM

Mr. Lincoln Goes to Hollywood (Smithsonian Magazine)

Much more than a review, this piece in Smithsonian uses the new movie to look at the extraordinary political challenges of the time, Lincoln's political process in maneuvering staunch opponents to a common goal - preserve the Union.

Interesting side note - Lincoln never felt his Emancipation Proclamation was enough. It only pertained to the slave states and could be overturned by another president. A stop gap step of sorts. He chose to support and stated he would sign the 13th Amendment. It would apply to the nation as a whole and be a much more broad reaching, lasting document.

The anecdotal story of his defense of a 70 year old woman charged with murder is a gem. Real good read. ~ pinto

Photo: David James, SMPSP © 2012 DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.
All Rights Reserved


Mr. Lincoln Goes to Hollywood
Steven Spielberg, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Tony Kushner talk about what it takes to wrestle an epic presidency into a feature film

In Lincoln, the Steven Spielberg movie opening this month, President Abraham Lincoln has a talk with U.S. Representative Thaddeus Stevens that should be studied in civics classes today. The scene goes down easy, thanks to the moviemakers’ art, but the point Lincoln makes is tough.

Stevens, as Tommy Lee Jones plays him, is the meanest man in Congress, but also that body’s fiercest opponent of slavery. Because Lincoln’s primary purpose has been to hold the Union together, and he has been approaching abolition in a roundabout, politic way, Stevens by 1865 has come to regard him as “the capitulating compromiser, the dawdler.”


Lincoln’s wit was indirect, friendly—Doris Kearns Goodwin quotes him as describing laughter as “the joyous, universal evergreen of life” in her book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, on which the movie is partly based. But it was also purposeful. Stevens was a man of unmitigated principle. Lincoln got some great things done. What Lincoln, played most convincingly by Daniel Day-Lewis, says to Stevens in the movie, in effect, is this: A compass will point you true north. But it won’t show you the swamps between you and there. If you don’t avoid the swamps, what’s the use of knowing true north?

That’s a key moment in the movie. It is also something that I wish more people would take to heart—people I talk with about politics, especially people I agree with. Today, as in 1865, people tend to be sure they are right, and maybe they are—Stevens was, courageously. What people don’t always want to take on board is that people who disagree with them may be just as resolutely sure they are right. That’s one reason the road to progress, or regression, in a democracy is seldom straight, entirely open or, strictly speaking, democratic. If Lincoln’s truth is marching on, it should inspire people to acknowledge that doing right is a tricky proposition. “I did not want to make a movie about a monument,” Spielberg told me. “I wanted the audience to get into the working process of the president.”


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Reply Mr. Lincoln Goes to Hollywood (Smithsonian Magazine) (Original post)
pinto Nov 2012 OP
Mnemosyne Nov 2012 #1
awoke_in_2003 Nov 2012 #3
Mnemosyne Nov 2012 #4
awoke_in_2003 Nov 2012 #5
Mnemosyne Nov 2012 #2
Kablooie Nov 2012 #6
John2 Nov 2012 #7

Response to pinto (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 04:23 PM

1. Does this mean he wasn't really a vampire hunter? Damn! nt

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Response to Mnemosyne (Reply #1)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 04:48 PM

3. Give me four hours to kill a vampire...


and I'll spend three hours sharpening the stake

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Response to awoke_in_2003 (Reply #3)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 10:46 PM

4. Lol! It actually was a pretty decent movie. On the other hand, Lincoln vs Zombies left much to be

desired, unless you ran it on ff, then it was hysterical.

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Response to Mnemosyne (Reply #4)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 12:32 AM

5. Yes, I will see it. nt


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Response to pinto (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 04:37 PM

2. Very interesting article. I look forward to seeing this film. I am pleased to read there that

Lincoln's humor was friendly; it would have been very disappointing to find he was sarcastic.

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Response to pinto (Original post)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 02:03 AM

6. The film has some parallels with politics today.

The Republicans and Democrats are totally contentious and disparage the other side's views as nonsense just like today. The Democrats are vehemently against eliminating slavery and many Republicans aren't terribly hot about the idea either.

You get to see Lincoln wind his way through the labyrinth of partisan politics and even do some borderline misdirection in order to get the amendment passed.

The dialogue is a little hard to follow at times because some of it is very dense political talk and spoken in the unfamiliar vernacular of the time but I've read that the events and characters of the movie are surprisingly historically accurate according to expert historians.

It twists your mind a little though since the Republicans are the liberals who want to broaden human rights and the Democrats want to keep the status quo of slavery.

Also one of the things I enjoyed was seeing Lincoln not as a copper or marble image but as a real, emotional, amazing human being.

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Response to Kablooie (Reply #6)

Sun Nov 11, 2012, 09:39 AM

7. It


does not boggle anyone's mind if they are a student of History, considering your next to last sentence. That is if people would forget the labels and actually look at what the Party is selling. Anybody today should recognize, the Republican party of today, is not the Party of Lincoln. They have nothing in common.

In fact, they resemble the Party of the Confederacy. They are for State's Rights and restrictin rights against people who do not look like them. That seismic shift happened mostly during the Civil Rights Era. And you are still seeing it in play today.

It also has everything to do with the Civil War of the Past. The Republican Party of today, always like to cite our Founders but they have forgotten something. The original Constitution put forth by those Founders changed after 1865.

If I was to compare President Obama to any Historical President then it would be Mr Lincoln. They both came from the same type of background. They both were Lawyers. They both had a Professorial character about their styles or delivery. They both came to power under troubled times. They were both elected to a second term after a troubled first term but bounced back. They both enacted historical executive orders ( Lincoln with the Proclamation and Obama with the Dream Act). They both dealt with obstructionists. I can go on and on. The only difference is President Obama is Black. Obama would not be President if it wasn't for Lincoln either. That is ironic but God moves in mysterious ways.

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