When I heard that Dreamworks movies would be distributed by the Walt Disney Studios, I immediately thought of how terrific it would be if Disney was able to distribute “Lincoln,” the movie Spielberg had been working on since 2001. If you’ve read even the shortest biography of Walt Disney you know that he admired Lincoln as our nation’s finest president. When Walt chose the first human being to be represented by an audio-animatronic, it was Lincoln who would once again wow the masses with his oratory. He has his own attraction at Disneyland and is featured in Walt Disney World’s Hall of Presidents.
Lincoln has not be neglected by films either. Among the many times he’s appeared in the theaters, Henry Fonda played the 16th president in “Young Mr. Lincoln” in a film by John Ford and Raymond Massey played him twice, once in “Abe Lincoln in Illinois” and once in “How the West was Won.” Hal Holbrook, one of my favorite actors, won an emmy for his 1976 portrayal of Lincoln in an acclaimed TV special. (Holbrook reprised the role in the mid 80’s TV mini-series “North & South”).
Holbrook also has a role in Spielberg’s Lincoln, but it’s not the President. That role is filled impressively by Daniel Day-Lewis who took over from Liam Neeson who declared himself too old. Day-Lewis reportedly took a year to become Lincoln as part of his preparation for the role and would periodically text his co-actors in the voice of Lincoln as they prepared for the film. This all pays off when Day-Lewis disappears from the screen and you are watching Honest Abe work his way through these tumultuous moments in history. Day-Lewis’s ability to become the person he is portraying will no doubt earn him another academy award nomination and likely a third gold statue when all the votes are in.