They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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The Last Months of Abraham Lincoln

Our Nation's 19th Century Wounds

The history we learn in school in woefully incomplete. Even large scale documentaries such as Ken Burns' The Civil War have their focus primarily on the war and the division of a nation and of a people and families.

The Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves. The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution made it law. But those are the results. History is made by people. They squabble, they scheme, they plan. Lincoln is a story of how the 13th Amendment passed the House of Representatives.

And in the afternoon of the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, cold and gray and in the midst of the madness of the weekend shopping throngs, this particular theatre was sold out.

Lincoln [PG-13]
Celebration North Theatre 11, 2:10pm

Brilliant. I had my doubts about Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln. But he wears the role with the right combination of homespun humor and gravitas. Tommy Lee Jones' performance is noteworthy. Sally Fields as Mary Todd Lincoln is extraordinary -- we see her pain and her "madness". Many other bearded men play important historical figures. I was impressed with Jared Harris as Grant -- he was Moriarty in the latest Sherlock Holmes film.

If I were to compare this to another movie, I'd have to consider the musical 1776. I think we need to see that the sausage making aspects of creating a new nation or a new amendment is not nice, neat or free of politicking. I don't know that we get a complete recitation of all in the House vote, but we get enough to understand what a close thing it was, just as in the final vote in Philadelphia. Ken Burns' likes to talk about how the Civil War changed us from being the United States to The United States -- one nation rather than an assemblage of states. Here we see how even the peace negotiations are tempered with the distinction between rebels within the U.S. and a war between two nations. And why it mattered.

And can you imagine a current U.S. President on the battlefield hours after its conclusion, while the bodies still lie in the open? Or riding in an open carriage in a city filled with guns today? Or people running across town and into the front door of the White House? For a PG-13 movie, there are some stark wartime realities shown. And Mrs. Dr. Phil wondered how one could live in such dark, smoke filled houses. We are spoiled with our modern electricity.

Of course in a movie about white men making the decision regarding the slaves, there is a background of black men and women, some freeborn. It's a hard thing to decide on their place in this film or the historical rightness of it. In the last election, though, there were a lot of people talking about "the party of Lincoln". I wonder if the right people will see this movie and understand how far the Democratic and Republican parties have come since 1865 -- both for good and for ill on both ends of history.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed John Williams' score. John always does Steven Spielberg's movies. We like to joke that he steals from the best for his themes, including himself. This time there are echoes of Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait in his work.

One shouldn't be so surprised that Steven can produce such drama in addition to his fabulously popular works. He's done it before. This time, we can be pleased and proud that he has taken on this project.

Highly Recommended

Trailers: The Impossible is a new one to me. Set in the 2004 Asian tsunami disaster, it stars Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts as parents on vacation. Seems that it's a Spanish film done in English. The Lone Ranger is a Johnny Depp movie? And we are really looking forward to Bill Murray as FDR in Hyde Park on Hudson.

Dr. Phil
Tags: civil war, history, movies, reviews

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