Lincoln seems to be a hot topic in theaters this year. I’m not sure why this is so, but first he’s hunting vampires and now he’s freeing slaves. Go Abraham!
I must start by saying that this movie was incredible. Truly. It was brilliantly (and I mean freaking BRILLIANTLY!) cast, and the acting, script, scope and emotional impact was extraordinary.
But a word of warning… this isn’t the movie where he kills vampires. So, if you go thinking it is, you’ll probably be very confused and about an hour into it wonder when the hell the vampires are coming and how the hell the writers got away with NOT including this pretty freaking big plot element in the first 10 or 20 minutes of the movie. Because you can’t make a vampire movie starring Abraham Lincoln and NOT have the vampires featured pretty early on.
You also might wonder how the vampire plotline would work at all, once you’re an hour or so into the movie. Will a rebel soldier from the north rise up and attack the beloved president, only to be found a vampire and beheaded? Will one of the cabinet members opposed to emancipation turn into a vampire and Lincoln will finally be justified in slamming a stake through their racist heart? These are real thoughts you’ll have if you’re expecting vampires.
How do I know? Well, here’s what happened. First, I don’t really follow what movies are out, what’s hot and what’s not, etc. As you might have noticed if you follow me anywhere at all, I’m pretty darn busy writing lately. So I didn’t know the vampire version of Lincoln had already run its course and wasn’t out in theaters anymore. I also didn’t know there was ANOTHER Lincoln movie that shockingly DID NOT feature vampires AT ALL!!
Dmytry and I planned to spend our afternoon date seeing the last Twilight movie. But my parents and my 14-year-old sister are coming to town tonight—family I haven’t seen in a few years—and they wanted to see it with us, so we rescheduled that particular movie for tomorrow, and decided to go to something else instead. Being the good wife that I am, and since I have the most awesome husband who was wiling to use our rare movie date to see Twilight, I told him he could pick the movie. I’d see whatever he wanted.
He spent the next 20 minutes trying to decide between three movies, and finally said, “Okay, we’re going to see the Lincoln movie,” which I took to mean the Lincoln movie where he kills vampires. It was a logical assumption given the above information, don’t you think?
So we go to the movie, he buys the tickets (and he’s so freaking hot with his 6’6″ gorgeous Russian self that I’m not paying attention to the movie name) and we go watch our movie.
And there I am, sitting in this very intense and emotional history lesson wondering where the hell the vampires are.
So don’t go expecting vampires and you’ll be in a much better position to enjoy this movie.
Even with that expectation, which, after I asked three times “Where the hell are the vampires?” he finally realized I thought we were at the Vampire Hunter movie and laughed himself silly… but even with all that, I loved this movie.
I’m not a big history buff. I hated AP History in high school and though the stories of people’s lives fascinate me, the dry facts and memorization that learning history used to be bored the socks off of me. So I won’t pretend to know how much of this is based on fact and how much is fabricated for the story… though I’m fairly confident that the vampire hunter version had a lot more make believe involved.
Here’s what I will say about the movie.
O.M.G. The cast was amazing. Daniel Day-Lewis played Abraham Lincoln. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill and Daniel was brilliant. Have you noticed that he never looks the same in ANY movie? I didn’t even recognize him until I googled the movie. Seriously, check him out in “The Last of the Mohicans” and “In the Name of the Father” and now this, it’s like three different dudes. He was the perfect amount of understated and commanding, approachable but still presidential, a people’s man, a politician, a pure soul willing to bend the rules to do the right thing.
Genius. Right there. Genius.
Then we have Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. She was brilliantly cast as his wife and played the part with just the right amount of vulnerable, angry mother, grief stricken after their young son’s death, but still a savvy politician’s wife.
James Spader makes an appearance as W.N. Bilbo, the shady character Lincoln hires to help him sway the votes for the emancipation amendment. I love Spader in Boston Legal and he brings that same swagger and “I-can-do-anything-I-want” attitude to this role.
This was a full cast of people whose faces you’ll recognize, but I’m just going to touch on one more, my favorite character in the whole show (and my favorite actor) Tommy Lee Jones who played Thaddeus Stevens. First, who doesn’t love good ol’ Tommy? He’s epic. Second, this part was made for him. The dialogue was sharp, witty, biting and brilliant. Thaddeus spearheads the fight for equality, not just to free the slaves, but to give all men equal rights, a vote, a place in society as equals.
The most powerful scene in the movie is when Thaddeus has to speak before congress and reporters about what the true meaning of this amendment is. His enemies, those who want to keep slavery alive, want to goad him into sharing his real feelings, that it’s not just about freeing slaves, but about giving them the vote and making them equal. If he says this, the amendment will not pass and all hope will be lost. If he doesn’t, if he denies this, he goes against everything he’s ever believed in.
The ultimate political conundrum. Speak the truth and lose or lie and win. But losing means millions of people will continue to be enslaved, beaten, killed… while lying gets him one step closer to true equality.
He turned this speech on its head and you have to see the movie for this scene alone.
Once I got over the lack of vampires, what really touched me about this movie is how shocking it is that just 150 years ago people were at WAR over whether or not to enslave other human beings. That the thought of giving anyone other than white men the vote was so completely appalling. That human beings are so controlled by their fear, that we still see this in our society… that fear of letting people different than us have the right to choose their own life path.
I must confess, I don’t understand. I don’t get how we could have ever thought that was okay, and I don’t understand how we can still feel it’s okay to deny people the rights that all humans should have. The right to marry. The right to make decisions about their own body. The right to be heard.
I almost never get political online, and I’m not really going to now. I believe each and every person has the right to believe what they want and live how they want as long as they are not 1: impeding another person’s freedom to do the same and 2: hurting other people.
But getting back to the movie, it touched me. The struggle, the fear, the humanity of it all… it will stay with me. If AP History had been more like this, I’d probably have majored in history in college.
And for a historical movie with no vampires, this one is definitely a must see!
The trailer for the Lincoln movie WITHOUT the vampires
The trailer for the Lincoln movie WITH the vampires
So you see, two very different movies apparently. It’s important to know these things ahead of time, don’t you think?