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