Last weekend I saw Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. I loved it. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Why? No, it wasn’t because of my penchant for literature based on vampirism. It’s because I love literary mash-ups. A recent trend which takes classic stories and re-tells them with a paranormal/supernatural twist and novel of this genre, by author Seth Grahame-Smith, who also wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, from which this movie was based. (Side note – I also read Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Jane Slayer, and loved them, too.)
Abraham Lincoln is referred by many as one of, if not THE greatest President the United States has ever seen. As the 16th President of this Great Nation, he served only 4 short years until his assassination in 1865. It was a presidency that was meaningful, successfully leading the country through what is thought to be our greatest constitutional, military and moral crisis to date – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery.
I hadn’t read the book yet, but am obviously familiar with the great life of Mr. Lincoln. So when the trailer started to hit earlier this year it was quickly added to the get babysitter/must see list. And I am sooooo glad I planned ahead and made it to the movies two weekend’s ago when it opened.
I thoroughly enjoyed it! From its filming style, similar look and feel to Sherlock Holmes (love, love, love) as well as Wanted, also from director Timur Bekmambetov (which I too love, love, loved), to its rather poignant story line, which centered around the concept that Mr. Lincoln under his sky high hat and stature, was a ruthless vampire hunter, out for revenge against the immortal being that killed his mother when he was a boy. It was a solid film that managed to be both entertaining and surprisingly relevant (read on, my thoughts on that in a few).
The cast was also refreshing. I was so glad to see the movie didn’t fill itself with the Scarlet-Kristin-Jennifer actresses of Hollywood and opted for instead talent like Dominic Cooper, once known as Mr. Amanda Seyfried, but now growing into a name of his own with movies like Captain America, the always entertaining Rufus Sewell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead who we saw in movies like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and The Grindhouse, and the refreshing Benjamin Walker, who has had forgettable roles in movies like Flags of our Fathers, but in this film, playing Mr. Lincoln himself, was absolutely unforgettable, bearing a eerie resemblance to a young Liam Neeson (who for the record, I’ve always had a little big crush on).
But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the movie was seeing how the issue of slavery was used as not just a crisis that nearly divided the country, but also a vampire driven agenda – one where their kind could easily buy and sell victims without worry about being found out because of the thinking that no one would come and look for them. Humans as food and slavery as the vehicle: it blew my mind that this kind of movie could use such an intense, charged, and reprehensible act as slavery to remind us just what a dirty part of our history that time was, but an important part of history nonetheless because of the Nation’s ability to abolish it, rise above the injustice, and set forth the pillar our country holds dear today – that all men are created equal. But do all this and not appear as if it were a blatant attempt by Hollywood to push their political agenda – clap, hands, now.
There were several moments of the movie I forgot about the plot and was thrown back to the America of our history books; a Washington DC of the 1860s, where a horse drawn carriage chauffeured the President past an in-development Washington Monument, instead of a modern day helicopter, whose propellers flatten the majestic emerald lawn of the White House under their movement.
It was because of two later points the movie saddened me a bit as well. Especially the ending (it’s not a spoiler folks, it’s a moment of history), where Lincoln declared at the Battle of Gettysburg (i.e. The Gettysburg Address) that “the deaths of so many brave soldiers would not be in vain, that slavery would end as a result of the losses, and the future of democracy would be assured, and that a government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
A government OF the people, BY the people, FOR the people …
We are a great nation, and we have come far, but we have so much farther to go to achieve the greatness I believe Lincoln saw in our future. Perhaps the movie’s relevance wasn’t just chalked up to sublime movie release timing, but because it is a time where now more than ever, we need to show our younger generations the path from which we came, the vision of greatness of which we were founded, and the belief of togetherness that was the glue our leader felt would bring us back and hold us together after nearly dividing us apart.
Is it hard to believe a movie was trying to say all that – give us a history lesson and teach the younger minds about history through vampires? Maybe. Do I pray we don’t need zombies to get folks to pay attention? Hell yes. But then again, we also need all the help we can get reminding ourselves, and teaching our younger generations, and those generations yet to come, where we have come from and where we need to be.
Perhaps it wasn’t just me who got all of this from that silly vampire move. Perhaps there was another American that loves this country as I do, and felt the same passion for the greatness Mr. Lincoln believed in and we have yet to live up to; a greatness that shall not perish from the earth – a greatness that can only be born from scrapes and bruises. Let us not hope we need to be divided again to remember this. At times it feels we are already divided, but I have to hope, no pray, that’s not the case.
In this time of election, I wonder if our politicians remember the words of Mr. Lincoln. Beneath the mudslinging do they stop to think about the impact their campaign, their words, are having on the fabric of this great nation? I have to hope both parties, do. After all in the words of Mr. Lincoln, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
So politics aside, on the eve of our Independence Day, let’s remember what a great country this is, how each of our voices should be heard, and how important We The People are to this country. “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Oh, and see the movie. It really is good.