“If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what’s said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.” — Lincoln
One of the reasons the film Lincoln is so personal to me, and one of the reasons you see me writing about it too much on this website, and one of the reasons I have defriended people on Facebook who speak harshly about the movie is my own adoration of the man himself. Was Lincoln perfect? Of course not. He didn’t get to be the most popular president by being a abolitionist or a revolutionary. How he changed, how he evolved as a human being – and how that transformation was snuffed out too soon — matters more to me than smearing his memory, as so many are wont to do.
What I love about the movie Lincoln is that is reveals tiny details about the president. He could bear to discipline his children so they ran wild throughout the White House — but Lincoln was a kind man that way, and was famously kind to animals. He once stopped his schoolmates from putting hot coals on the backs of turtles. When Lincoln was a boy his mother died. He was then briefly raised by his sister and the two of them had to fend for themselves until his father could find a woman, marry her, and bring her back to raise his children. Lincoln’s sister died but his stepmother outlived him. Death chased him at every turn, and that grief is displayed so well by Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance. The film is made by people who valued Abe Lincoln so much that Spielberg wore a suit to the set as a sign of respect.
So yeah, the Oscars, whatever. But this memory, this man, this MOVIE, greater than all of it.