Friday, September 14, 2012

The "Lincoln" trailer

A few thoughts on the Lincoln trailer.

The voice. Everything I've read about Lincoln's voice suggests that it was tinny, nasal, and higher pitched than the prototypical masculine hero's. It's a good sign that DDL chose a reasonably "accurate" timbre and accent for the role. In some ways it's a brave choice, because Lincoln is often portrayed with a deeper voice. And since his words, and his voice, and one of the most important parts of his legacy, a thinner voice may shock some people. The makeup, beard, and hair coloring are right on.

The movie seems to be about the end of the war and the 13th amendment. This strikes me as a bold choice, but a smart one. The film seems like less of a biopic and more of a character study of Lincoln at the end of his life. Biopics almost never work for me, because the story of a life is often too decentralized and sprawling to make sense of in a movie. By limiting the scope of the film Spielberg has the opportunity to really build Lincoln's character.

I know this is only a trailer, and I know that this is a Spielberg film, so maybe I should expect this...but the trailer is full of hokey, overly simple racial politics. Slavery? Well, that's bad. But there are bad people out there! So, let's end it? It's presentism, thinking about history without historical context. One of the difficult aspects of studying history, for me, is trying to understand how someone I admire (namely, Lincoln) could think that black people are naturally inferior to white people. Or why he thought that we should send American freedmen to a colony in Central America. These sorts of questions are central to any real understanding of history, and the trailer didn't seem interested in tackling them.

Anyway, I'm stoked to see this. It can't be worse than the vampire movie.

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