on the world stage: Lincoln as history and tragedy | Characteristics
Spielberg, like Shakespeare, is a first-class artist. He has managed, throughout his career, to transcend the divisions between highbrow, lowbrow and middlebrow. Like Shakespeare, the director realizes that big themes are often best conveyed by storytelling that pleases the crowd, and that entertainment is best delivered when cooked with a certain depth. Although many today regard Shakespeare as the example of great art, it should be remembered that his tragedies played out not only for monarchs and courtiers, but also for people on the ground, who wanted immediate entertainment alongside of high ambition. “Lincoln” takes a page from this playbook. Not only are there heated political exchanges and noble monologues, but there are also burlesque thrills, a race against time and even some blue language from old Honest Abe to him. -same. When Spielberg told a similar story about slavery and the Constitution in “Amistad” 15 years earlier, he neglected to make the story too entertaining. In this film, the nobility was there, but nothing in common; we had kings but no clowns. In “Lincoln,” he rectifies that and in doing so, makes a film that is not only more entertaining than the previous film, but that says more about the human condition.
And what better subject for this approach than Abraham Lincoln? The man who wrote the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Speech was also a teller of debauchery tales and jokes. He could, as he does in the movie, quote Shakespeare, Euclid and the Bible, but he could also charm with a concise saying or a colorful anecdote. Kushner’s script captures this specific quality not only in Lincoln’s language, but that of the entire period. David Milch, the creator of the modern Wild West televised classic “Deadwood,” once noted that Americans on 19e century was perhaps not as “literate” as the modern public, but almost all knew the King James Bible by heart and had some familiarity with the collective works of William Shakespeare. To the surprise of some, the old-fashioned language of the film did not alienate audiences but attracted them – Kushner had great faith in moviegoers, the faith that they could listen to Lincoln talk about “fiddling with hawkers.” of Tammany Hall “or Thaddeus Stevens complains of finding” the mephitic fumes “of a rival’s oratory as” a deadly challenge to our pleural abilities “, without fully verifying. Like any good Shakespeare director, Spielberg knows that viewers don’t have to grab every reference or immediately record every meaning of every word if they’re hooked to the rhythms of the speech, and if they buy the set that the director created, they will accept, and even embrace, the most obscure and archaic dialogue.
While inspiration from Shakespearean tragedy and history has given “Lincoln” both its endearing mix of characters, its diversity of tones and rich dialogue, it has also given it one of its most important aspects. dividers: its end. A common complaint about the film is that it runs too long – some say it should have ended after the Thirteenth Amendment went through Congress; for others, the best stopping point would be the bittersweet photo of Lincoln’s silhouette moving quietly along a White House hallway en route to Ford’s Theater. These objections are well founded, but also miss some of Spielberg and Kushner’s intentions. Lincoln silently walking towards his unconscious destiny would be a low-key and effective ending, sure, but there would be something too modern about it, something slightly off-beat from the rest of the movie. In the structure that Spielberg and Kushner created, it is necessary that we follow Lincoln to the climax of his life’s work. His death, a brutal murder in front of an audience of theatergoers, punctuated, as the story recalls, by the cries of an actor perversely trying to remember Shakespeare’s work. Julius Caesar, must be explicitly recognized by the film. This is the story’s natural, organic conclusion, and while the film goes back a little on this point by not actually portraying the act of murder onscreen, it comes as close as possible to the evocation of this moment without showing it directly. Lincoln’s preteen son Tad is very attentive, watching a bouncy production of “Aladdin, or the Wonder Lamp,” when a shaken man takes the stage. “The president was shot at Ford’s Theater!” The man proclaims, and the child screams in agony.