I just returned from seeing the critically lauded new biopic about our sweet sixteenth (president, that is) and am riding the goose-pimply emotional swell of seeing and hearing a good story told well.
This is not a movie review, however... although the pic is sure to see Academy nominations for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), Actress (Sally Field), Supporting Actor (Tommy Lee Jones) and maybe even a long shot Supporting Actor nom for the very entertaining James Spader. Not to mention, Best Costuming and a slew of technical nods, as well. But, this is not a review! (Although, I must also note: At 180 minutes, empty your bladders before or during the previews, because there are no boring lulls in the film to designate as a potty break.)
No, this blog entry is designated to that 10-15 minute adjustment it took for me to adapt to the fact that Abraham Lincoln was appearing before me in motion and speaking.
You'll hear Daniel Day-Lewis's voice speaking as Lincoln moments before the camera pans to his wonderful and accurately made-up face. And, it's quite the unexpected jolt! I don't know how the actor chose the voice he decided to use to represent our 16th president, but it's definitely not as booming and authoritative as I obviously must have expected.
Then he moved. Which is also quite a startle. For all of our lives, we've seen Abraham Lincoln as still life. Faded and photographed, sketched, oil-painted, crumpled up on our five dollar bills and frozen in marble for all of eternity at the foot of our capital's reflecting pool.
But, for the first time in our lifetime, he moves. He ambles rigidly, clumsily, oddly moose-like. He folds his stature practically in half and creakily crawls across the floor.
I watched, amazed. I'm not sure what I had expected to see. I'm not sure if Day-Lewis's choices in tone and cadence were artistic choices or historical fact.
Then it dawned on me! My generation's ideals of this president's motion, voice and natural demeanor weren't based on film or recordings... the technology didn't exist in his time. We're familiar with his face and stature from the aforementioned photographs and artwork we've familiarized ourselves with over time. We're comfortable and confident in the depiction of his looks.
But, the only reference we've had to his speech and his movement, up until the release of this marvelous film came in the form of a Disney animatronic.
Ha, yes! Mystery solved! Hopefully, you may now spare yourselves the jolt at the theater. Besides, it only took about 15 minutes for the unfamiliarity to pass. Go see Lincoln, cheer on the 13th Amendment and enjoy!