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« This Week's Acquisitions | Main | By the By: A Thrilling Tale »

November 24, 2012

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Mr Punch

I agree with a lot - obviously the movie should have ended before the assassination - but take issue with some key points. First, the thing about Lincoln was that he was both a canny politician and a Great Man; that's the historical fact, and the one that his "team of rivals" came to understand.

Second, I think the criticism about the black presence misses the point. The movie opens with black soldiers bayoneting Confederates - looks like "agency" to me! Shortly thereafter, a black soldier (taking the Frederick Douglass role) tells off the Commander in Chief about unequal treatment. There are many scenes with black troops, a a conversation with a black women who has lost a son in battle.

This movie is about the shenanigans white politicians went through to give blacks the first installment of what they had won on the battlefield - in a sense, the backdrop is a non-Spielberg film, Glory (1989).

undine

Good point about 1776, and although I can see where the critics about black activism have a point, there are only so many heroic figures you can fit into one movie even if you're Spielberg. Maybe his next epic will be called DOUGLASS!

It's the first movie I've seen in a theater in 4 years, and I enjoyed it, so I'm not inclined to be critical.

Contingent Cassandra

Another, more recent (and also related) parallel might be Amazing Grace, a somewhat sentimentalized/heroicized account of the abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade in England. It's been a few years since I saw it (and taught a church class based on it), but the drama definitely revolves around the passage of legislation (which, when you think about it, is quite a trick to pull off), and we get some idea of the human side of our heroes (though perhaps more in the what-they-overcame vein). The trickier thing for me was the emphasis on the Christianity of the heroes (including John Newton); it's not that I (a student of the period and the movement on the American side, and a practicing Christian) don't believe that faith played a large role in the abolitionist movement; I'm just keenly aware that many American abolitionists were at odds with the institutional church, that plenty of slaveowners considered themselves Christians, and that the intersections (and lack thereof) between John Newton's faith journey and his journey toward abolitionism were considerably more complicated than the film suggests.

I haven't seen Lincoln yet, but intend to.

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