by Rich Rubenstein on November 26, 2012 · 2 comments

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“Lincoln” is a great evocation of the capital’s culture and politics at the end of the Civil War.
Daniel Day-Lewis is superb as the president, but the real Oscar-winner is likely to be Sally Field, who manages to capture both the neurosthenia and dignity of Mary Todd Lincoln.  Unfortunately, the politics portrayed here are far less complex than the characters of the protagonists. The Republican Radicals are presented as patriotic statesmen for betraying their commitments to social and political equality for Black Americans in order to secure a legal reform — passage of the 13th Amendment. The ghastly century-long consequences of that betrayal, and of the sainted Abraham’s unwillingness to actually liberate the South, are never made clear.  As a result, the movie remains on the level of hagiography, and another chance to reconsider one of the hardest questions of American history is lost.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzanne December 18, 2012 at 10:23 pm

I would love to read this sentiment fleshed out, fully expressed.
How the republicans were portrayed versus the real political sentiments threaded through the implications which would impact the next hundred years. former student and fan.


Rich Rubenstein December 18, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Thanks, Suzanne. Glad to hear from you! You might like to read the first great pro-republican book, written in response to the “Dunning School’s” conventional damning of the radicals as self-interested crazies: W.E.B. DuBois, BLACK RECONSTRUCTION (1935). LaWanda Cox’s FREEDOM, RACISM, AND RECONSTRUCTION (1997) is another important source.


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