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Lincoln: A Political Thriller from the Historical Perspective

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2017, 30(2), pp.37-68
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Soim Kim 1

1건국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The movie Lincoln (2012), directed by Steven Spielberg, can be categorized as a political thriller according to A.O. Scott in his New York Times article. A thriller dramatizes a conflict between a protagonist and a villain, enhancing tension and suspense while the protagonist overcomes the obstacle the villain presents. Following the pattern of a thriller, Lincoln dramatizes a conflict between the charismatic President and the inefficient and villainous House over the passage of the Thirteenth amendment ending slavery in January 1865. In order to heighten urgency and tension concerning the amendment and highlighting the heroic characteristics of President Lincoln, the movie transforms many aspects of the significant historical incidents and characters around the Civil War. Focusing on the charismatic leadership of Lincoln as a protagonist of the thriller, the movie fails to deal with the dynamic historical flow toward the amendment, the complex political contexts around the emancipation of slaves, and many heroes involved in the emancipation movement. Historically the emancipation and the amendment have been achieved by the collaboration of many activists including women and black people. And the House initiated to propose the amendment. But in the movie the House is portrayed as a hilarious and uncontrollable group which is unable to debate rationally regarding to the abolishment of slavery. While the passive black characters fail to establish the meaningful relationship with Lincoln, the white lobbyists are actively involved in the political games and set up personal relationships with the President. Lincoln conforms to the popular US cinema which has consistently placed value on whiteness as many critics observe. As a commercial movie, Lincoln aims to entertain rather than to illustrate ideological fairness or historical truth.

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