Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lincoln and 1776

The movies Lincoln and 1776 are very different in tone but they make interesting bookends to a chapter of American history.

1776 is a musical about the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It follows the months from the original motion to declare independence to the signing of the document. It was adapted from a stage play so the action takes place on a few sets and location shots.

Lincoln is a drama about the passage of the 13th Amendment which outlawed slavery. It runs from early January, 1865 through Lincoln's assassination. It was adapted from a non-fiction book. The movie goes to lengths to appear to have been shot completely on location with natural lighting.

Both movies take a few liberties with history but strive to accurately show the behind-the-schemes maneuvering that went into these events. Some of the best lines in 1776 are actual quotes and care was taken with the script for Lincoln.

In both movies the tone is fairly light considering the subject matter. Both have a good deal of humor. Both of them also have a message about the horrors of war. 1776 has a soldier singing a mournful song about the dead on a battlefield. Lincoln begins with a gory (and slightly over-the-top) battle followed by some soldiers relating their experiences to Lincoln himself. There is also a scene at a hospital for soldiers with mangled legs.

In both a vote that seems impossible finally comes together at the last minute.

1776 shows the beginning of America and makes it clear that we would not have existed as a nation if the free states had not accepted slavery. Lincoln shows the struggle to bring that chapter of history to an end.

They would make an interesting 4 of July marathon.

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