Friday, November 9, 2012

Doris Kearns Goodwin: About Lincoln, the movie


Today is the day. Lincoln, the much and long talked about Steven Spielberg movie based on a small segment of Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, Team of Rivals, comes out in 'selected cities', the balance of the country gets it next week. I really adore Kearns, having seen the famous historian numerous times on Meet the Press over the years. What I love about her is how refreshing her brand of intellectualism is - she is just a delight and seems to have a fabulous time sharing her insights and anecdotes with us.
I've been curious as to what she thought of the film but I figured she would be a fan - how flattered almost any author would be to have a director of Steven Speilberg's calliber interested in your material, even an author of such high repute as Kearns Goodwin.
So Thursday, when the Boston Globe ran this piece on Kearns Goodwin's response to the film I read it with interest. Click the link to read the whole piece. I've excerpted a couple of the paragraphs I find most interesting but you should check out the whole piece. It isn't very long.
Here's what Doris told the writer, Joseph P. Kahn.

"About visiting the set
I went last November, when they were filming at the Virginia House of Delegates in Richmond. Rick Carter, the production designer, wanted me to see the White House set, which was built in an old pinball machine factory. When Rick opened the door into the “White House,” I was just blown away. The bedroom, the office, the silk screening and carpet, the first editions of books Lincoln was reading — I could practically smell the smoke in the draperies from [Secretary of State William] Seward’s cigars. For 10 years, I’d been trying to think about what this place would be like. Then, suddenly, here it was. I’d been catapulted back into 1865. That was an incredibly special moment.

Your reaction to the finished film?

The parts I love most are when Lincoln tells one of his stories. Not only because he did that all the time, but because his whole face would change. Lincoln’s face had a structural sadness to it, as does Daniel’s. When you watch his eyes become shiny and a smile light up his face, you feel he’s really alive. I’ve often been asked, “If you could sit with Lincoln for dinner, what would you ask him?” As a Lincoln scholar, I know you’re supposed to say, “What would you have done differently about Reconstruction?” I’d just want him to tell stories for an hour, though, because then I’d truly see him come alive."

Will you be seeing the movie? What do you think of Daniel Day Lewis' as Lincoln? He just won a BAFTA Best Actor for his work in the film.

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