Armen Chakmakjian


In history on January 13, 2013 at 5:51 am

A while ago I posted a list of my favorite movies.  I think I now have to amend that list. No it’s not the best movie I’ve ever watched.  It is the second best. It falls between Gettysburg and the LOTR trilogy.  Here’s why:

I thought the acting superb and really got the essence of the way people spoke at the time.  The screenplay was phenomenal. Mind you it is not hard to read letters written between Grant and Lincoln.  However, the interchanges in the congress especially between Thaddeus Stevens and the scurrilous rep from Ohio where phenomenal.  Daniel Day-Lewis was Lincoln.  When he was telling the stories this was everything Lincoln-lore told me he would be.  The weight of the world on his shoulders and telling a story about a widow who killed her husband.

The one that had me howl (which I already had read somewhere, but seeing it acted out made it more hilarious) was the story of Ethan Allen and the picture of Washington.  I laughed so loud.  It would have been embarrassing except for the fact that everyone else in the theater was laughing as hard as me.

A lot of this movie would be familiar to someone who read “Team of Rivals”.  One thing that this movie did do was elucidate what was happening beside the battles. Most people who know anything about the Civil War know some or most of this:

  • Lincoln
  • Sumter
  • Emancipation Proclamation
  • Gettysburg Address
  • Various Battles

What is often lost is that most people at the time were not anywhere near the battles (even though millions were fighting). Discussions and debates were happening.  Seminal debates that shaped the next 150 years. Just amazing.

However, I still think that Gettysburg was a better movie, and this is why: The story of Lincoln was told through the politicians.  The soldiers that Lincoln visited or the body parts that his son saw being dumped were not where the true carnage was taking place.  Gettysburg showed how leaders could invoke God as being on their side while they ordered thousands of common folk to march to their death over the vile institution of slavery.

Anyway it was an amazing movie (and yes I saw Les Mis a couple of weeks ago and it was phenomenal, but nowhere near as well done or important as this).

Oh and one thing: The current budget debate is nowhere near the importance or scale of the Civil War, and Obama is not a second Lincoln and the republicans of today are not equal to the Copperheads during the civil war.  We shouldn’t be trying to raise the petty politi-dolts of today to be the equivalent of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Webster, Stevens, Sumner, Lincoln and the two Roosevelts.  What’s going on today is political equivalent of a Kardashian marriage.

Finally, I think it is time to make a movie about Grant. Whether that be Turner doing Shaara’s “Last Full Measure” or one of the excellent biographies of Grant, I think it just time to give the man his due.


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