Telling the story of an historical icon is at once both daunting and simple. Daunting, because icons are owned by the masses, existing disparately in each of our imaginations. We own our icons, and when those icons are so thoroughly tied to our country’s history, we own them from a very young age. Yet this same disconnect between the truth of an individual and the public’s partial idea of that individual makes the task simple–take what you know to be fact and build on it. In Lincoln, Steven Spielberg has created a picture of the man established in fact, but accommodating of the Director’s own vision; a depiction that articulates the details of our nation’s greatest leader–from his spindly gait and agile mind to his quiet, cogent authority–while fully articulating the political swamp he navigated en route to one of our country’s most pivotal moments: the abolition of slavery with the 13th Amendment.
Tag Archives: Steven Spielberg
The “hero” as a concept or storytelling device is, and always has been, fluid. Some of us prefer the pure altruist—the Superman who does right simply because he knows what right is. Others need their heroes to be flawed or tragic, like Hamlet—angling for the light even as their blemishes define them. Others hanker for antiheroes, preferring Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle, a psychotic knight in rusty armor. Indiana Jones is enigmatic in his heroism; vacillating between all heroic traits, occasionally embodying all at once. His position as an archaeologist leads him to scour the globe in the interest of saving and protecting precious antiquities. Yet isn’t the quest for history-defining curios inherently a quest of self-triumph? Dr. Jones, over the course of his story, is at once selfless and selfish, motivated one minute by his moral compass, and the next by the fame and glory latent in uncovering history’s secrets.
Some of Steven Spielberg‘s best work. As he is gaining the freedom to do what he wants, he is taking advantage of it in a really great way. Making message films that won’t necessarily please a universal audience. My only complaints were that it felt a wee bit patronizing by the end. The entire movie is setting up this idea of “war and the warrior-is it worth it in the end and if not, why do we continue to fight so passionately?” Granted, this is a powerful message and should be made clear, but it’s more powerful when the audience can find it on their own. Continue reading