I am an American who lived her early years in Europe. I went to school in England, Italy and The Netherlands. My father was an American and my mother is English. They decided to move back to America (where my sister and I were born) and make a permanent home.
I started my American education toward the end of the third grade. I really was clueless about American history. The first assignment I was given was a blank map of the United States. I was told to fill in each state and hand it in the next day. This was a great idea for me, as I needed to learn the states and just how big America was. But when I handed in the map I was told I would have to redo it. I had written in the state names correctly, but I had not PRINTED the names. In Europe we used long hand for everything and I had never learned to print. The other big shock was that I quickly learned that I did not have to stand each time that I spoke in class. In my other schools, we always had to stand when we were speaking. But in America, things were a lot looser and a lot less formal.
One of the very first books that I read after moving to America was a biography of Abraham Lincoln. He was the first president that I was really interested in and I loved the story of him as a young boy and how he succeeded in life. I also started reading the series Little house on the prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Those books were a great introduction to American history.
As I got older I became more interested in the Civil War, slavery and abolitionists. I have been reading all about the new Spielberg movie, Lincoln, and I was very eager to see it. It did not disappoint me at all, it was everything the critics said and even more.
While the film focuses on a specific time in Lincoln’s presidency, it really gives us the man. It shows us the frustration of not only being president, but how much patience is needed in being a leader. We see Lincoln as a husband, a father and as a practical man who has great vision. How many times have we seen politicians who actually listen? There are many scenes in this film where he is simply listening.
We watch this film and know that this is a great man…we know how great a leader he is. But we also see his humanity, we see him become small to be with others. He is on the floor with his young son, he does not stand over others, and he sits to be at their eye level. He tilts his head to see faces and so they can also see him. His gentleness and his moments of quiet are the scenes of beauty in this film. Spielberg is introducing us to not only history, to a president, but also to a man. Daniel Day-Lewis never acts in this film, he IS Lincoln. He simply is.
I loved reading about Abraham Lincoln when I was a child and I loved finding him again in this film.