Trust, but Verify

Sneak Peek of Lincoln

by A.J. Mercincavage | November 17, 2012

Students got front row tickets to history once again, this time with an early screening of Steven Spielberg’s film “Lincoln” thanks to Professor of American Studies, Dr. Watson.

“Lincoln” stars Academy Award Winner Daniel Day Lewis in the titular role of the 16th American President. The film follows Lincoln as he worked with his cabinet members to end slavery and preserve the union during the Civil War.

Roger Ebert, the renowned movie critic and contributor to the Chicago-Sun Times, gave the film high marks with a four star rating. Student reviews after the screening were equally positive.

“The movie was really good. It really portrayed [Lincoln’s] soft speech well,” said JJ Dawson, President of Lynn’s College Democrats. “He wasn’t a guy that was very aggressive in tone. It was directed well and it was very accurate.”

The film is based loosely off of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography, “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln”, a book I’ve been chipping away at over the last few months. While the film focuses on Lincoln time in office, specifically the time and effort spent passing the 13th Amendment, I’ve read through Lincoln’s journey from childhood, to prairie lawyer, to Republican nominee.

Here are some interesting bits I’ve picked up from the book that I think frame Lincoln’s politically savvy and honest to goodness depiction in the film:

  • In order to defeat a pro-slavery candidate for the U.S. Senate, Lincoln had his followers shift their support to anti-Nebraska Act Democrat Lyman Trumbull. Lincoln put aside his own ambitions, for he was close to having the necessary majority to win the Senate seat, to defeat a pro-slavery platform. Trumbell won 50-41, with 45 of Lincoln’s converted supporters. Lincoln would even go on to attend Trumbull’s victory party! That kind of magnanimity is hard to image in today’s politics.
  • While his Republican rivals toured the Holy Land (Seward) or thought they had their party’s nomination locked-up because of their gravitas (Chase), Lincoln was always hard at work behind the scenes drumming up support for his presidential campaign and promoting himself through speeches. His hard work would pay off at the Republican convention in Chicago in a what seemed like a “surprise” victory to outsiders.

Lewis’s preformance as Lincoln has given him a “lock” on a Best Actor Oscar Nomination, according to Ebert. Lewis has twice won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his roles in “My Left Foot” and also “There Will Be Blood.”

Lewis has only appeared in five films since the year 2000, but dives deep into the characters he portrays. He is known to remain in character during the entire shooting schedule of films in true method acting technique.

“Lincoln” was released nationwide today, Nov. 16 to mostly positive reviews of the overall film and especially of Lewis’s accurate portrayal of the president that saved the Union.

Categories: Lynn, Politics

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