So we sat in a movie theater, waiting for the interminable inane commercials and preliminaries to finish, and the previews to be done, and the new movie, Lincoln, to start. We got there early because we expected a huge crowd on this first day of general release of the film. In fact, there were several school buses in the parking lot and we thought, horrors, that classes of noisy young people would be crowded with us in the theater. Much to our surprise, though, there were really not that many folks in the theater at first. The kids from those buses were obviously somewhere else. Slowly and steadily, though, the theater filled, and there was really an amazing crowd for a weekday early showing. A crowd of people who love history.
Oh, we had our doubts. And then the film began and continued for two and a half hours, and it is brilliant. It is beautifully paced, wonderfully written and acted, and poignant beyond any ordinary description. It has been seventy-two years or so since a major film told Mr. Lincoln’s story, and this film was worth the wait. When we first heard about the project, we had reservations about the actor who portrays Lincoln, a British actor no less. And what more really could be said about a story known by just about every American school child and many folks in other parts of the world and told in so many, many books.
What more, indeed. How about a film so topical it reveals the underbelly of our House of Representatives to this day? How about a film so topical it reveals the undercurrent of racism rampant in our country to this day? How about a film with a superb performance that shows the human Lincoln, the one who still had aspirations for the future, the one who suffered frustrations and exhaustion and pain? How about a film that when it ends, the way that it always ends, although one hopes that perhaps just once it would not end that way at all, but when this film ends, how about how a quiet, moved audience then begins to applaud? The kind of applause, perhaps, that says a thank-you to everyone involved in bringing this story to the screen in this way, and also a thank-you to the man who lived it.