blog description

Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Movie Review: Lincoln

Before starting the review, let me state my background. I was born and raised in Illinois, the Land of Lincoln. When I was growing up, saying anything negative about Mr. Lincoln was practically next to a sin. For more than the past twenty years, I have lived in Virginia, where many have a vastly different view of Lincoln. Neither extreme portray the man in an accurate light. As a student of history, I like to see the reality, rather than some caricature. In that regard, the movie was partly successful.

I enjoyed the fact that Lincoln came off as a human being. Like everyone else, he had faults. In the movie, he told bad jokes, and apparently that was accurate to his nature. I also liked the fact that he didn't have the deep baritone voice that some attributed to him. From what I've read over the years, the deep voice was some figment of imagination dreamed up by Hollywood. Unfortunately, that's pretty much all I liked.

Even though Lincoln was portrayed as human, he apparently rarely swore. I'm certainly no prude as some of my characters have done their fair share of swearing, but I have no idea why someone would use such language incorrectly for a historical person, unless it's to help boost ratings. Throughout the war, Lincoln was plagued with constant depression. For some reason, this detail was overlooked and would have added tremendously to the plot, but I wasn't the writer.

During the opening, a couple of soldiers had memorized the Gettysburg Address. I find the scene totally implausible. Have you or do you know anyone who has ever memorized a president's speech? I rest my case. Sorry, but the Gettysburg Address only became more well known after Lincoln's death.

I could continue to nitpick other historical inaccuracies, but I fully understand the concept of writing historical fiction. I generally don't understand why if a fact is known, why someone would change it. The true history is usually much more fascinating than anything made up. Anyway, the movie centered around the Thirteenth Amendment. During the entire dialogue, nothing was ever mentioned about how the Emancipation Proclamation had not freed slaves living in Delaware, Maryland, and other border states.

Lincoln was personally against slavery, but in the beginning of the war, his focus was to keep the states together. Freeing the slaves became a genius political move at a later date. With the entire movie focusing on the Thirteenth Amendment, it became a political drama. One theme I noticed was how little things have changed over the years. Because I have studied the Civil War in depth, I was aware of that fact, but truly, if I had wanted to see a political drama, all I had to do was turn on the news.

At two and a half hours long, I found the movie BORING.

Kim Murphy


  1. Just an FYI--Back in the early 1900's, my grandfather had to learn by rote several "great American speeches" in elementary school. One of these was the Gettysburg Address, so I suppose this might have happened.

    As you are an expert on the period, I'll take your review as a head's up on the movie. :) (It didn't win much at the Oscar's either.)

  2. I guess that was a bit like "Friends, Romans, countrymen..." that I learned in school. Thanks for letting me know, but I stand by my comment. The scene wasn't a school situation, and the Gettysburg Address wasn't all that well know until after Lincoln's death.

    Thanks for a thoughtful comment!

  3. I have to say I found the movie a bit boring as well. The movie seemed to want me to believe it was historically accurate, but I kept thinking, "How does anyone really know what these conversations were like, if the conversations took place at all?" And the Gettysburg address was panned as a complete flop at the time he gave it. I like historical fiction when it's presented as fiction.