I’ve been saying for years that Steven Spielberg will be out of his depth with the Lincoln movie, which he’ll soon begin directing in the Richmond area. He’s basically a Tintin/Raiders/E.T./Catch Me if You Can/Amistad/Robopocalypse type of guy, and he knows that we know this. And leopards don’t change their spots.
But at least this forthcoming Civil War drama have Daniel Day Lewis‘s performance as Abraham Lincoln, which we all know will be some kind of thrilling-exceptional-historic. It can’t not be.
Spielberg has told the Orlando Sentinel‘s Roger Moore that “the movie will be purposely coming out after next year’s election” — i.e., sometime in December 2012 — because he doesn’t “want it to become political fodder.”
What is he talking about? What’s wrong with noting historical-political parallels between the past and the present? How is that a negative? If Paul Thomas Anderson or Oliver Stone or David Fincher were directing Lincoln, would any of them say they don’t want anyone pointing to political parallels?
This indicates Spielberg’s general discomfort with political subject matter. He’s always defaulted to sentiment and emotion. The man makes movies in order to swell hearts.
Never forget that Spielberg sent Tom Cruise‘s teenage son into a hopeless battlefield encounter with the Martians in War of the Worlds…and let him live. And then threw in Gene Barry and Ann Robinson, costars of the original War of the Worlds, as the kid’s grandparents.
“We’re basing [the film] on Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s book, ‘Team of Rivals,'” Spielberg said, “but we’re only focusing on the last four months of Abraham Lincoln‘s life.” In other words, it’s not really based on Goodwin’s book but about the closing chapter of the Civil War and the very end of Lincoln’s saga.
Six years ago Liam Neeson told me the film would span from Lincoln’s inauguration to assassination. Then it was reported that Tony Kushner ‘s script would begin with the Emancipation Proclamation and end with Lincoln’s death. Now it’s down to Lincoln’s final 120 days of life — December 1864 to April 1865.
Lincoln “is “not a battlefield movie,” Spielberg told Smith. “There are battles in it, and being in Virginia, we have access to those historic battlefields. It is really a movie about the great work Abraham Lincoln did in the last months of his life.”