Three things you should know about Spielberg's 'Lincoln'

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  • Christian 24-7 Murray, UT
    Feb. 26, 2013 2:16 p.m.


    Why? What part of history does this book revise, and what cause does it promote, that I should read it?

    If it is just a tabloid style expose`, I have no need of it. I have no illusions that great historical figures were perfect, but I choose to focus on the good rather than the bad. It sounds like this book focuses on the bad.

  • SEY Sandy, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 10:41 p.m.

    In that case, Christian, you should read The Real Lincoln by Thomas DiLorenzo.

  • Christian 24-7 Murray, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 10:01 p.m.

    Well, I thought I would go see the movie, but now I think I would prefer read the book. I prefer my information to more factual and appropriate.

    Thanks for the heads-up.

  • If There is Anything Virtuous Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 4:46 p.m.

    Bravo, Mr. Erickson, on an excellent column. Thank you for setting DN readers straight on a few key facts about one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln. I have chosen not to see the movie for some of these exact reasons. Too often, "artistic license" is used today for political purposes--which is what I believe Spielberg did here.

    I suppose I am one of the few people who believes I do not have to see a movie to understand history. In truth, I believe I learn more from well-written and well-researched biographies such as "With Malice Towards None," "Team of Rivals," and "Did Lincoln Own Slaves," than from Hollywood's musings. I believe, like you, that the greater story is not the one Spielberg told. The best story involves a man, Abraham Lincoln, who, though flawed and occasionally vulgar, chose to be an instrument in the Hand of God to end slavery in this country. That is the story that matters most, not his flaws or any "possible" deals. If an imperfect man like Lincoln can accomplish such great things, what can regular folk like the rest of us do with God behind us?

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 1:55 p.m.

    I've read as extensively about Lincoln as has this author, and I certainly understand the impulse to defend his legacy. At the same time, these specific objections to the Spielberg film strike me as unfounded.
    First, Lincoln doesn't use bad language in the film. He does, on one occasion, use what we might call the 's' word. But that would not have been regarded as objectionable for a Midwestern farm boy in the mid-nineteenth century, any more than it was regarded as objectionable by my farmer (and stake President) uncle.
    Second, when it comes to the arm-twisting and deal-making that allowed the Thirteenth Amendment to pass, I take the word of Thaddeus Stephens, who was there and watched it happen, over the opinions of subsequent writers intent on maintaining the 'saint Abraham' legacy that Lincoln himself would have found risible.
    Finally, Lincoln's religious beliefs were distinctly equivocal, and became more so as the war progressed. He was certainly a believer, but the depiction of him in this film is consistent with his historical legacy.
    Where we agree is that it's a tremendous film.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Feb. 24, 2013 1:40 p.m.

    " Bad language is the expressions of a weak mind." sir, bad language can be the sign of many things..but, platitudes..are absolutely the sign of a weak mind.

  • Ticus Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 11:17 a.m.

    I have wondered about the intent behind the "artistic alterations" of this film. I have heard people who lean more Libertarian talk about how Lincoln overstepped his bounds, in their opinion, in exerting Federal Power in many instances during this period. In the circumstances, those actions perhaps may have been justified. But regardless, they occurred, and have impacted the precedent of what the Federal Government can do ever since.

    I bring this up, because Obama says that Lincoln is his favorite president. I wonder if it's because many of the questionably constitutional things Obama does has precedent in Lincoln. Obama sees himself as "morally in the right" (in pushing for his ideological entitlement, nanny-state, etc. agenda) the same way that Lincoln did in exerting his power during the Civil War. That's an important thing to recognize. And kind of scary, too, when you realize that many of the things that he sees as so profoundly "morally right", well, aren't. And he's willing to overstep his bounds the same way that Lincoln did to enforce them. And I wonder if this portrayal of Lincoln is being "artistically altered" to justify Obama's actions.

  • Rocket Science Brigham City, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 9:36 a.m.

    Excellent article. In viewing Spielberg's Linclon I realized I had seen some of the finest acting about one of the greatest figures in our history. I however, just like Mr. Erickson, left the movie disappointed at the artistic alterations of Hollywood. Bad language is the expressions of a weak mind. Abraham Lincoln was anything but weak minded and he respected, feared and relied on God. Use of the f-bomb in this day and age is all too frequent but its use in 1860 America is totally out of place and shows poor artistic direction in this movie (the word is not by Lincoln but by others).

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Feb. 24, 2013 8:50 a.m.

    Oh my word!

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    Feb. 24, 2013 8:40 a.m.

    I haven't seen the movie, but I appreciate the insight given in the well-written article. Thank you for the warning.