Sunday, January 27, 2013


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....

1 comment:

  1. Hello, Jerry. I was in a fish and chip shop in Durham when I heard that Kennedy had been assassinated.


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