Maytrees min asked me to to see the new film Lincoln at the Wimbledon HMV/Curzon with her yesterday which I did although without her prompting I might not have seen it at least so soon upon release
First I had to see whether the HMV Curzon film membership which I only renewed the day before HMV entered into administration, was still valid -which it was. They told me that even if the HMV shop on the two floors below the cinema closed, the Curzon films and bar would still continue up on the 3rd floor. In fact I surmise that the DVD and popular music industries still need an high street presence of some kind so hopefully the whole of the local HMV Curzon premises will survive in one form or another.
On to the film: Not having done history at school beyond 'O' Level I had no idea what President Lincoln's achievements may have been. The only pieces of history that I recall being taught apart from the events of the tragic C20 World Wars, firstly concerned the C16 siege of Malta repeated bravely I recollect in WWII and secondly and even earlier the Central Amercan Aztecs and Incas all of which were riveting to learn about at school and remember as an adult.
I assumed that President Lincoln's clam to fame was that of breaking USA free of British rule. How wrong I was. The American Civil war, vestiges from which were portrayed brilliantly in the film seems to have been as brutal as any war, with one outcome being masses of good men killed in the prime of their lives and much laying of waste of towns ports and the lives of men women and children - methinks the effect of wars today are little different.
What surprised me however were the political stories threaded in the film especially those concerning the scourge of slavery which of course many so called civilised nations have practiced, from before the Ancient Egyptians to old African rulers and some virtually inhuman British traders.
I assumed that in the USA the Republican Party is a little like the Tory party in GB with the Democrats more akin to our Labour party. A surprising feature of the film Lincoln, to me anyway were the accounts leading the viewer or at least your truly to understand that the Republicans broadly wanted to abolish slavery with the Democrats more inclined to keeping it. Obviously the abolitionists are right but the film portrays the wheeling and dealing required by President Lincoln to secure its abolition. Sadly even for good men achieving goodness can involve so much negativism en route. From what I could see in the film, the abolition of slavery which the Senate and House of Representatives in America eventually approved in nail biting fashion, did not cause the civil war to end immediately as had been hoped although in the film at least the end came soon afterwards but tragically with so many more deaths.
Surprisingly not least given its length its film, was riveting throughout despite the American film director's tendency sometimes to over-sentimentalise.
One scene in the film which really made me sit up and think was that in a theatre where Lincoln's youngest son was present with other people in the theatre's Presidential Box. As the theatre's finishing curtain went down the director went onto the stage to announce that President Lincoln had just been been shot.
This made me recall vividly learning of the assassination of the USA President Kennedy. We had been involved with a school play at school (Beaumont) and some boys' parents were there also. After the closing curtain the director came on to the stage. He hushed the applause and announced that President Kennedy had just been shot - we all found this news completely stunning. Kennedy was of course far from being a saint but The Cuban missile crisis was still fresh in our minds then.
My knowledge of history now extends to tiny snatches of learning from 3 areas of the world. Maybe some British history next....