Monday, May 17, 2010

3 Lincoln Films Coming to the Silver Screen

I'm not sure what trigger was but there seems to be a resurgence of Lincoln interest in Hollywood. According to an article I was reading on the plane ten days ago, three new films will be coming out this coming year or so. At the same time I have been listening to the audio version of Team of Rivals, the deeply researched book about Lincoln and the men whom he ran against for the presidency, who ended up on his cabinet. President Obama drew attention to the book at the time he was forming his own cabinet, which features at least one of his rivals, Hillary Clinton.

The book paints an amazingly detailed portrait of Lincoln, and it is quite different from the Lincoln I imagined. We know the details of his birth, the legendary fascination with reading, etc. I did not know that he was the life of any party, however. Wherever there were men, his stories had them in an uproar of laughter. It makes sense that someone headed to leadership would also be someone others enjoyed being around and listening to.

As a public speaker he was second to none. And his anecdotes were always both entertaining and pointed.

What got him into trouble was that he was a man of conviction and conscience. As a young congressman, he gave a speech denouncing the Mexican War because the U.S. had been the aggressor. "Show us where first blood was spilt, Mr. President. Was it on U.S. soil?" Everyone knew that it was not. The Illinois papers, who bought into the Manifest Destiny dream, declared that Lincoln had brought shame to the home community he represented. The bad press helped squash his re-election efforts. He never won another election till he took the White House.

One of the new Lincoln films is by Steven Spielberg. Evidently it will be a "big" film, on the order of Schindler's List. At least one reviewer has a sense of foreboding about the length. Potentially due out by the end of this year, it will feature the abolition of slavery among other things.

Robert Redford is also weighing in with a film that indirectly features the president. The Conspirator focuses on the events directly following the war, and specifically the assassination of Mr. Lincoln. This one is also due to hit theaters in 2010.

Spielberg? Redford? How can you top that?

Well, here's how. Tim Burton is also doing a Lincoln film. Yep, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. It's author Seth Grahame-Smith's follow-up to Pride & Prejudice & Zombies which took the reading public by storm this last year. The book is now in stores and I guess the ink is dry on some of the contracts which will set the project in motion. What will they think of next?

Original paintings created this past weekend. For more information visit The Many Faces of Ennyman blog.

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