Friday, September 14, 2012

Coming this November for all you history buffs out there

I am always looking for that next big historical epic motion picture to be released in theaters.  Past answers to my quest for a fix have included Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, The Patriot, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven, and even the recent War Horse, which takes place in the trenches of World War I.

Well, fellow historians, we now have another one to savor!  Coming out this November 16th is the much-anticipated Lincoln, starring one of the best actors out there, Daniel Day-Lewis, and directed by Steven Spielberg.

Click here to watch the trailer and read up on the casting decisions (lots of big names).

Don't get me wrong - just because I like a certain historical movie, doesn't mean I agree with it.  The Patriot was rather schlocky; Troy was seriously miscast (blonde Brad Pitt as Greek warrior Achilles?), and Kingdom of Heaven was a whitewash of the Crusades that made the Muslims out to be the persecuted good guys.

Being the open-minded person I believe myself to be, I have always been able to look past a movie's ideological flaws and appreciate it for its other historical accuracies, such as costumes, weapons, tactics, and overall realism.  Kingdom of Heaven may have been a love letter to radical Islam, but it sure did an outstanding job of depicting the brutality of the siege of Jerusalem in 1187, with its trebuchets and siege towers. 

What I am getting at here, is that I am not a fan of Abraham Lincoln, yet I fully expect Spielberg and his writers - Tony Kushner and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin - to treat our 16th president as a martyred saint.  The Left tends to love Abraham Lincoln, as he was the president who brought us an all powerful, centralized federal government that once and for all deprived the states of their true sovereignty, as the Constitution intended the states to have.  The Right often embraces him simply because he was a Republican, and, honestly, because I don't think a lot of them really know any better.

My study of the facts has led me to conclude that Abraham Lincoln was a tyrant who seriously violated the Constitution by arresting newspaper publishers, sitting members of Congress, and anyone else who disagreed with his war policies, and I believe that he blatantly committed treason by waging war on the southern states.  Keep in mind that the worst combat of the war took place in a state - Virginia - that had not even seceded from the union when South Carolina fired on Fort Sumter.  Virginia only seceded when Lincoln demanded that it offer up volunteers for the 75,000 troops that Lincoln planned to use to invade the Confederacy.

When I go to see Lincoln this November, I will go to be taken back in time to 1860s America; to watch ultra-realistic Civil War battle scenes as I believe only Spielberg can pull off; to see if any of Lincoln's proverbial warts will be exposed, such as his willingness to keep the slaves in bondage if it meant the South not seceding (Sorry folks, Lincoln did not "free the slaves" in any meaningful sense).  I will also be looking forward to watching Daniel Day-Lewis's interpretation of Abe Lincoln and see if he turns him into a real, flawed human being, rather than a saintly caricature.

Frankly, I am very much looking forward to watching this movie!

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects that never was, and never will be."  -Thomas Jefferson


Coach Brown said...

This is trolling so hard that it is almost laughable. Seriously, you might be one of the first people that teach history that I know that outright say that they think Lincoln is a tyrant.
While I agree that Lincoln was an imperial president and that he took liberties with the Constitution, I would argue that he took those liberties to save the United States and thus the Constitution. Funny that you failed to mention that the South clearly broke constitutional laws by forming a confederation and by creating armies that represented each state. That would be a no-no.
The argument that the southern states should have been able to create their own states because they didn't agree with the United States pretty much defeats the purpose of the United States' existence in the first place. Regardless of your interpretation of the Constitution, it would be hard to argue that the American democracy has been constantly evolution into what the Founding Fathers intended, a democratic government where all men are created equal.

W.R. Chandler said...

I'll say it again: Lincoln was a tyrant.

I "failed" to mention that the South clearly broke constitutional laws, because they did not break any. When the states are invaded by the federal government, what else are they supposed to do but raise armies to fight against it?

The federal government was created by the "free and independent" states. They did not give up their sovereignty when they created a mere agent to carry out their foreign policy and a few other regulatory tasks.

Also, I'm not sure what this "American democracy" is about which you keep speaking. If you are big on sticking to the constitution, as your post makes clear, then I'm sure you know that our Founders spoke very clearly against us ever being a democracy.

Anonymous said...

God knows we need a patriotic movie to cheer the national soul.

Anonymous said...

I too teach the interpretation of Lincoln as a tyrant. After all, like the great Roman emperors he unified using war. He is also memorialized on a throne with two fasces on either side.

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