Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lincoln - the movie, not the man - comes to 8 towns named Lincoln today.

Abraham Lincoln would be 204 years old today (he was a classic Aquarian). His birthday used to be a holiday, as was that of George Washington on February 22, but I guess two presidential birthdays/holidays in the same month was too much - forget that these were two of our greatest presidents – so now we just have the generic President’s Day.

Nonetheless, today is Lincoln’s birthday and that along with the impact of Stephen Spielberg’s film about the last few months of his life and the battle to ban slavery, means his profile has never been higher in modern times. In celebration of that, Spielberg, DreamWorks Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox and Participant Media are having special screenings today of Lincoln in 8 towns that bear his name. Interestingly, Lincoln, Nebraska is not one of them, though the film is still in theatres there. The towns are small towns that don’t have multiplexes for the most part and the opportunity to see the film is more limited.

In mid-March the film will be screened at 15 Lincoln high schools across the country in underserved areas. Lincoln high school in Denver is likely not one of them.

Moreover, when the film becomes available on home video DVDs of the film will be distributed, free of charge to all middle and high schools both public and private throughout the United States.

In a statement about the project, Spielberg said, “As more and more people began to see the film, we received letters from teachers asking if it could be available in their classrooms,” says Spielberg in a statement. “We realized that the educational value that Lincoln could have was not only for the adult audiences -- who have studied his life in history books -- but for the young students in the classroom as well.”

The screenings and DVD distribution are part of a social media campaign by Participant Media called Stand Tall: Live Like Lincoln.

There has been a small controversy that has arisen over the film. You may know that Representative Joe Courtney, a four-term Congressman from Connecticut has asked Spielberg to make one change to the film before it comes out on DVD. He notes, correctly, that while two representatives from Connecticut are shown in the film as voting against the anti-slavery amendment, when in point of fact all of Connecticut’s representatives at the time voted in favor of the constitutional amendment to ban slavery.

The film’s screenwriter, Tony Kushner acknowledges that Courtney is correct, and that the film changed the historical record. He responded to Courtney with a statement: “Rep. Courtney is correct that the four members of the Connecticut delegation voted for the amendment. We changed two of the delegation’s votes, and we made up new names for the men casting those votes, so as not to ascribe any actions to actual persons who didn’t perform them.”

He went on to say, “In making changes to the voting sequence, we adhered to time-honored and completely legitimate standards for the creation of historical drama, which is what Lincoln is. I hope nobody is shocked to learn that I also made up dialogue and imagined encounters and invented characters.”

I don’t expect Spielberg to make any changes to the film for its DVD release. I also don’t expect anyone to win the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, other than Daniel Day-Lewis, he really does bring Abraham Lincoln to life.

Oh, and the Lincoln towns where the movie is screening today are in Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and New Mexico.

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