Tuesday, August 07, 2012

from a man to a god

Daniel Day Lewis has been cast in the title role in Steven Speilberg's "Lincoln," which begins shooting this fall and is expected in movie houses by mid-November.

Abraham Lincoln was a human being in life, but in death has become a God. This is natural, since he led us through the most devastating moral and legal crisis in our history, out of slavery, and into a new identity as a country.

It took the worst war the US has ever been in to banish slavery, the original and worst nightmare in America's young life (although nuclear terror is getting up there in years, and may challenge for longevity). We still experience the aftermath of slavery every day.

Preceded in office by a string of three stunning mediocrities, Lincoln was willing to do whatever needed doing to get the necessary result. He was a skilled political infighter as well, pairing up enemies from the radical and conservative wings of his party, and playing the "Let's you and him fight" game with them. By the time of his Gettysburg speech, which historian Garry Wills calls "The second American revolution," Lincoln's radicalism had flowered by necessity, and he didn't hesitate in that very short and amazingly concentrated speech to unilaterally establish the country on a new foundation.

No wonder that today he has the dimensions of a god, and I have to wonder which way Speilberg will create the character and Day Lewis will play him -- as a human, or a superhuman.

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