Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Why Not Write About What 'Lincoln' Does Do Instead of What It Doesn't"

Keith Harris of Cosmic America is angry about the way historians are criticizing Lincoln:

Time to vent. I have no need to name names – you’ve read the reviews and you know who they are. But I swear if I read one more historian’s erudite treatise attacking Spielberg’s Lincoln for not delivering a comprehensive history of the abolition movement I am going to light myself on fire and jump out a window into oncoming traffic. So instead of doing that I think I will take a long winter’s nap. It is an activity far less dangerous and far more interesting. Here’s an idea for all scholars of history, American studies, or anyone else who feels a burning desire to weigh in on this film. Why not write about what Lincoln does do instead of what it doesn’t .
Okay here I go…


Wake me up when this is all over.


So what does Lincoln do well?


Joshua Wooden said...

Not sure. It seems to me that the only people qualified to answer the question are the very people criticizing it.

I wonder what it is about humans that we tend to gravitate towards what is wrong and negative rather than what is right.

As for me, I enjoyed the movie. I thought it was fantastic how they made him less mythological and more human. Scenes where he's interacting as a father and a husband make him more real, and more relatable.

John Fea said...

Joshua: Thanks for the post. Several of my students who are not history majors have seen the film and it has led to good conversations and even a request for good books on Lincoln. Does the film has problems? Yes. All historical films do and will. But from what I have read, it seems that this film comes close enough. I find myself sympathetic to Harris's rant.