A few years, a couple stars and a lot of rumors later, the long-awaited Abraham Lincoln biopic looks to be making its first steps toward theaters.
Director Steven Spielberg told the Orlando Sentinel that although Lincoln will be based on Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, it will focus on the last four months of Lincoln’s life — meaning the film would cover roughly the time from Dec., 1864 until his death on April 15, 1865.
Obviously, a lot happened during those four months, but a good deal happened outside of them as well. It would be hard to imagine a biopic about the 16th president of the United States with no mention of his election — a contentious left-field shocker from an upstart third party — in 1860; the Emancipation Proclamation (in 1863); the Battle of Gettysburg and Gettysburg Address (also in 1863); and his wartime re-election in 1864. There’s also the non-war elements of his life. Like the origin of his campaign nickname “Honest Abe,” his time in the U.S. House of Representatives and his courtship and marriage in 1842 to Mary Todd Lincoln — who, as you may recall, has some stories of her own.
So what would make the cut? The four-month period would cover the end of the Civil War (Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865), Lincoln’s second inaugural address in March 1865, and the brief period of peace that Lincoln was able to see before he died. Also, by focusing on the end of Lincoln’s life, we would likely see his assassination on the big screen — and possibly the attempted assassination of Secretary of State William Seward (played in the film by David Strathairn), who was stabbed multiple times but somehow survived.
Now, the word “focus” can be interpreted broadly, and I have to assume that will be the case with Lincoln. Perhaps Spielberg will set the pivotal four months as the present and use flashbacks to tell Abe’s story. Or the movie could make quick work of the first 55 years of Lincoln’s life and spend the bulk of the movie’s running time focusing on his last days.
Or it can start right on December 15, 1864, and leave the rest up to Wikipedia. Only Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner know for sure.
What do you think, PopWatchers? What events from Lincoln’s life have to make the cut? And how do you feel about Daniel Day-Lewis in the role?