Lincoln Discussion Symposium
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RE: Spielberg's Lincoln - Liz Rosenthal - 04-16-2013 09:48 AM

I'd like to welcome you, too, Eva! You sound like you had a Lincoln "epiphany" similar to the one I experienced in 2009! In my case, it happened as a result of reading the one-volume version of Carl Sandburg's Lincoln biography. Suddenly, I'd entered a whole new world... and I couldn't get enough! Since then, I've amassed and read enough books to fill a large bookcase. (And I hope I don't run out of room - help!).

Anyway, I think you've perfectly expressed the true purpose behind the Lincoln movie. It was to give viewers a real sense of who Lincoln was. The story behind the 13th amendment really served as a backdrop. Even though the story of the 13th amendment was an important one to tell, it was actually a vehicle for learning about Lincoln the man and president.

During the time that Spielberg's Lincoln was in theaters, and the Oscar nominations and voting were happening, people both here and abroad surmised that the movie wouldn't mean as much to people outside of the U.S. But I thought that that was a ridiculous assumption. It seems to me that learning about Lincoln is a timeless, borderless enterprise. He's a man for the world, not just the U.S. A major reason for this is that he sincerely hoped that the U.S.'s experiment with democracy would not fail. If it did fail, he believed, democracy would not take hold anywhere in the world. He seemed to really care about the fate of humankind, not just Americans.

My understanding is that the Lincoln movie did pretty well overseas, despite its alleged Americo-centric subject matter.

Eva, which books about Lincoln have you read? I'd love to know!

RE: Spielberg's Lincoln - My Name Is Kate - 04-16-2013 10:43 AM

(04-15-2013 09:23 PM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  To me it appears a bit strange that seemingly so many Americans review the movie as boring, disappointing etc. And, referring to My Name Is Kate's post, I think it is very much a movie about Lincoln the man.
I feel like the odd one out on this forum. I am not emotionally involved with Lincoln (although I've always admired him) and I have an aversion to politics and I don't know alot about history of any kind. It's only incidental that I came to this forum, but I do find some of the things discussed here interesting, and I think the Civil War era was a crucial time in this country's history and in shaping the present.

RE: Spielberg's Lincoln - Eva Elisabeth - 04-16-2013 07:09 PM

Dear Liz Rosenthal, you took the words right out of my mouth:"I'd entered a whole new world". When reflecting allthis once mord with regard to your post, the following became very clear to me: the movie reminded me of my past. The scenes of exaltation after the Amendmend passed exactly reminded me of Nov.5,1989 (I,was 15 then) when the Berlin Wall broke down and the people in eastern Germany were allowed to leave their country, to be free. And, too, this event was succeeded by reunification -and a free Europe. (In many ways I feel rather European than German.) And, too, this event was preceded by (another kind of) war, the Cold War, with its frightening and constant threat of a possible nuclear war, and Nov.5 brought release.
Referring to the "experiment with democracy"-I think for many people here America is an allegory of democracy and freedom and the possibility of the "pursuit of happyness" (by the way, for my A-levels at school I indeed had to learn this DoI-passage by heart!). Finally, just 3 weeks ago I experienced the following: We went to Tunesia for vacation. One day when I was sitting at the hotel beach, reading D. Donald's Lincoln biography, one of the Tunesian waiters came along, pointed at the book cover and asked.:"Who is this?""A famous former American president" I replied. Then the man said exactly this:"America is great. I don't want to live there because I love Tunesia. But I want the same rights and the same democracy for my country."

RE: Spielberg's Lincoln - L Verge - 04-16-2013 07:31 PM

Eva Elisabeth,

I think we'll make you an honorary American! I remember watching the television and seeing the Berlin Wall come down. I cried. I was a WWII baby, so all I ever heard was East and West Germany, the Cold War, bomb shelters, air raid drills, etc. as I was growing up. I believe that citizens of other countries appreciate what American democracy means more than our own citizens do.

RE: Spielberg's Lincoln - Laurie Verge - 04-17-2013 04:42 PM

Somewhere earlier on this thread or forum, I asked people to keep their fingers crossed because there was a chance that Gloria Reuben, who portrayed Elizabeth Keckly in the Lincoln movie, might be coming to Surratt House in May as part of a Historic Preservation Evening.

We evidently did not cross enough fingers because Ms. Reuben did not accept what we thought was a generous honorarium, travel expenses from NY, and lodging in a hotel of her choice in D.C. Very disappointing.

RE: Spielberg's Lincoln - BettyO - 04-17-2013 06:45 PM


I'm disappointed as well! She is a lovely, charming lady whom I had the pleasure to meet on Spielberg's set - I was hoping to see and talk to her again....

RE: Spielberg's Lincoln - L Verge - 04-17-2013 06:57 PM

I was hoping that her knowing that Surratt House had raised the funds to mark Mrs. Keckly's grave in 2010 might be the deciding factor.

RE: Spielberg's Lincoln - Eva Elisabeth - 04-20-2013 03:56 AM

(Sorry, I should have long done this) I just want to say that here we are terribly shocked and worried about the attack in Boston and (as far as Mr. Obamas speech and the impression spread by the media are representative) relieved by the American's positive attitude towards facing and dealing such catastrophies. Thanks god they seem to have caught the assassins.

RE: Spielberg's Lincoln - BettyO - 04-20-2013 08:34 AM

Thank you so very much, Eva! This is and was a very shocking thing for us as well....thank God, it's over now! We can only pray that people will respect all other people and we can all get along peaceably!

RE: Spielberg's Lincoln - LincolnMan - 04-28-2013 12:04 PM

I've now watched the movie four times. My appreciation for the film has only grown-it has gotten better each viewing. DDL as Lincoln continues to be an amazing portrayal. I notice things I didn't necessarily notice in other viewings. For instance, Lincoln makes a comment in the movie about his father- Something like "he wasn't a kind man." I didn't catch that before. I don't know if Lincoln actually ever said that, but it reflects that there was a "problem" between them.

RE: Spielberg's Lincoln - Jim Garrett - 04-29-2013 09:25 PM

(04-28-2013 12:04 PM)LincolnMan Wrote:  I've now watched the movie four times. My appreciation for the film has only grown-it has gotten better each viewing. DDL as Lincoln continues to be an amazing portrayal. I notice things I didn't necessarily notice in other viewings. For instance, Lincoln makes a comment in the movie about his father- Something like "he wasn't a kind man." I didn't catch that before. I don't know if Lincoln actually ever said that, but it reflects that there was a "problem" between them.

AL never got along with his father and if I remember correctly, he only visited him once after he became successful. I think Dennis Hanks recounted that when Thomas Lincoln was ill and felt the end was near, he asked to see his son. AL responded something along the lines that nothing good would come of a visit with his father.

RE: Spielberg's Lincoln - Eva Elisabeth - 04-30-2013 06:51 AM

He wrote: "Say himthat if we could meet now, it is doubtful wether it would be more painful than pleasant."
I'm just wondering - I've just read that Lincoln's father, immediately after Lincoln had left his family, said: "I suppose that Abe 'll fool hisself with education. If Abe don't fool away all his time, he may make something yet." and several similar things.
I wonder if he ever regretted such thinking in later life, if there was any sign or statement that he finally acknowledged his son's achievements (even if he wouldn't live to see his presidency), particularly since he benefited from Lincoln's financial support.
Does anyone know anything about this?

RE: Spielberg's Lincoln - RJNorton - 04-30-2013 08:56 AM

I believe Thomas Lincoln was a Whig in politics, so maybe there was some common ground there. But I do not recall ever reading that Thomas said anything praiseworthy about Abraham's career. Eva, that's not to say it didn't happen; I am only saying I do not recall ever reading about it if it did happen.

RE: Spielberg's Lincoln - Mylye2222 - 11-25-2019 07:27 PM

(04-16-2013 08:03 AM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  That's difficult to express, even in German. It made me feel the hardships of those times and the burdens and difficult decisions Lincoln had to carry. It was touching that apart from the cruel he had to face and was involved in, he still was capable of emotions and empathy, the way he treated people and especially his son.

I think LincolnMan, I could fix it to two scenes: the procession on the battlefield and the one when he was awaiting with his son the outcome of the decision about the13th Amendmend.

With all the horror of the war around him, he could have turned a cynical. Yet he chose the highest route by staying the man he was.