Random posts on all sorts of things designed to inform and provoke.
President Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of these United States, is known throughout the world for his many accomplishments including the Emancipation Proclamation, developing wicked forearms, writing eloquent speeches, escaping Illinois, preserving the Union, and killing hordes of vampires. On top of which, historians agree that his sense of timing was impeccable. For example, during the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Lincoln destroyed Senator Douglas’ argument for the Kansas-Nebraska Act by bringing out Douglas’ black mom just when the Senator was telling the crowd that he didn’t know any black people.
Lincoln would, therefore, have been galled to no end at the timing of the movie based upon his life, imaginatively titled “Lincoln.” Steven Spielberg’s new movie had been in development for so long that the director’s original choice for our 16th president, Liam Neeson, went and killed the entire Albanian population in Western Europe and Turkey. He also grew too old to portray Lincoln; by the way, I don’t get this justification since Lincoln, as portrayed in the movie, is not a young man – Sally Field plays his wife for God’s sake! I shouldn’t quibble over this detail though since Neeson was replaced by Daniel Day Lewis, an infinitely better actor and one who, according to critics, has given a superlative performance in an appropriately respectful and solemn movie.
So, why am I complaining about the timing of this movie since it looks like all the stars aligned perfectly for a piece that is likely as boring as Downton Abbey? Because releasing this movie right after the presidential elections is dooming it to failure. Americans have just lived through over 15 months of a never-ending election and just when we are ready to sit back and watch something innocuous like the latest Bond movie, Spielberg gives us “Lincoln.” Who in their right mind will say that they need to see more politics, especially in a film shot in the sepia-style copyrighted by Janusz Kaminski, who I will never forgive for the last Indiana Jones movie, that is based only on facts and has no entertaining qualities? To be fair most movies released in the fall aren’t entertaining for those who still have their own teeth but that is expected and part of the fall cycle of movies. What is sad about “Lincoln” is that one of the greatest directors of our time took so long to make his movie about one of America’s greatest presidents that he could only release it after the most bruising election in our lifetimes. Lincoln would not have been pleased.