Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lincoln, The film, not the city!

I’m sitting in my hotel room in Douglas Isle of Man. You know the type of hotel which has two sides: The one in the brochure which boasts of panoramic views of the coast and the other which looks out onto a car park which the hotel shares with the local cinema.

Now, it’s nice to look out of the window every once in a while and be reminded that last night, out of sheer boredom (I’m here on my own on business) I went to said cinema and watched Lincoln. I was reminded of the picture house of my youth in Harpenden which is now sadly a petrol station. I would suggest the fittings were original, as are the ticket booth, the rest rooms and maybe even some of the staff. Sadly, the prices were still very much twenty first century, but I intend to put this night on the Company!

If you want an authentic treat, and ever find yourself (ironically) in the county of Lincoln, do visit a quaint old market town called Louth. (I have never known a place with so many charity shops, with such good selections of second hand books. There really is nothing else for the good people of Louth for recreation other than to read!) Well, that’s not strictly true as it has this fantastic old cinema of which the screen is so small, I have seen bigger tv’s in peoples houses! Add to that it has an intermission half way through the movie, in which two girls come round the aisles selling confectionary out of their trays suspended by ribbon round their necks and you really do re-visit your childhood.

Apart from Mama Mia (immensely more enjoyable than Les Mis – see prev blog)) the only other film I saw there was ‘Amazing Grace’ which was about William Wilberforce’s fight to abolish slavery in Great Britain. I remember being distinctly underwhelmed by the presentation of such an overwhelming subject, but the film was one I still felt was worth seeing and stood up as an edifying spectacle when compared to so many far less noble subject matters which are turned into movies (C’mon, how long before we get ‘The Killer on the track – the story of Oscar Pistorious) 

Sometimes you just have to let the woman have the last word fella

And so it was with similar expectation that I went and saw Lincoln.

My low expectations were met. It was like watching something on BBC3. Only 24 hours before I had sat cuddled up on the sofa with a Terry’s Chocolate Orange watching a wonderful documentary about the history of Baroque art, but if it had overlapped with the start of Mrs Brown’s Boy’s, my shallowness would have usurped my depth and I would have changed channels. But here I was again (sans Terrys Chocolate Orange) being informed rather than entertained. I was in a cinema, I wanted to be shocked, awed, tickled, inspired but I was none of those things.

'Washington, Jefferson, Watch out baby cause here I come, Abraham, Theodore, You're gonna see my ugly mug on Mount Rushmore Yeah!
Ian Hunters song 'When I'm Presiden

Don’t get me wrong, my admiration for the guy has increased, and he certainly deserved to be carved out of stone on the side of Mount Rushmore, but the film was just too intense, complex in its plot and too many characters who looked like Charles Dickens but with yankee accents. I just didn’t know who was who!

My guess is that the history of the Civil war and the fight to abolish slavery is on the curriculum in every school in the US, and therefore this is a story with characters all too familiar to an American audience. But to this Brit, I was only able to appreciate it at a broad level:

They have slavery, some want to keep it that way, others don’t, there’s a war on, and the two are linked, but which comes first? They abolish slavery, then the Confederates surrender and then Lincoln gets shot.

There you go, just saved you 2hrs 20 minutes of your life and £9.10

Daniel Day Lewis is Oscar nominated for this role, but let’s be honest, no-one knows what Lincoln sounded like, and so if you grew a goatee beard, dye your hair black and wear a top hat, we can all be Abraham Lincoln! Admittedly he has lots of lines to learn, so he earns his fee, and that pretty much sums up the film. A lot of dialogue and in particular a lot of Abe telling anecdotes and saying famous Abraham Lincoln sayings.

I always assumed Lincoln to be a devout Godly man with a deep faith and although there were hints at this it wasn’t laboured at all. He was more interpreted as a deeply principled man with a love of people. Perhaps the best scenes were played out between him and his wife, the role entrusted to the ever dependable Sally Field. Their relationship was strained at times, but the co-dependency and trust in each other was heart warming, although I’m sure by the end, even she was probably ready to shoot him, I know I certainly was!

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