Samuel L. Jackson calls out Spielberg on “Lincoln”

On the eve of the announcement of the Academy Award nominations, it's worth recalling that this year star Samuel L. Jackson called out director Steven Spielberg for misdirection.

Specifically. for letting Lincoln go on and on unnecessarily:

"I don't understand why it didn't just end when Lincoln is walking down the hall and the butler gives him his hat," he said. "Why did I need to see him dying on the bed? I have no idea what Spielberg was trying to do."

Jackson added:

"I didn't need the assassination at all. Unless he's going to show Lincoln getting his brains blown out. And even then, why am I watching it? The movie had a better ending 10 minutes before."

To which Ebert heartily agreed on Twitter. Fascinatingly, the writer of the original, much-quoted story in the Los Angeles Times, Steven Zeitchik, actually managed to ask Spielberg about the ending (along with other directers, such as Tom Hopper, about their difficulty finding endings). 

Speilberg defended his approach:

Asked about the prevailing feeling that he should have wrapped "Lincoln" at an earlier moment, [Spielberg] didn't concede the point. In fact, he said he didn't struggle with the ending as much as he did other issues. "The great challenge was not how the story would end but what it would cover," he said. "Tony [Kushner's] original draft was 550 pages."

As for Jackson's wish to see the shooter, Spielberg had an explanation. "We just knew we wouldn't show the assassination, because it would sensationalize the story. It would have suddenly focused the movie on the shooter, not the president."

To Jackson's question, Spielberg replies: I was only following the writer. And truly, that's what makes this movie unique among his many successes. It's a purely dramatic work, in which Spielberg stepped back, and put away his bag of tricks, and let the script and the actors provide the fireworks. 

What a gift Lincoln was to us, then and now. 

Add yours ↓
  1. IP OP

    Spielber’s ‘on cue’ –latest piece of predictive
    programming, cultutal incest and PC moral alibis
    for capstone ‘things unfolding’.

    As with ‘Empire of the Sun’ being used to
    ‘perception manage’ Globalist handover to
    –RED– China, and released on the verge of the

    As with ‘go along get along’ –‘Shindler’s List’–
    which effectively ‘preception managed’ economic
    handover —and even the yet unfolding RED China
    Halocaust itself

    —-SO TOO –once again, with the 9th –10th? –11th?
    Hopllywood Lincoln which, BTW, ‘mysteriously OMITS’
    any mention of Lincoln’s possibly –FATAL– diss
    of teh Global bank monopoly over finance of the war.


    January 10, 2013
  2. Kit Stolz

    It can get scary out there in Internet-land, can’t it?

    January 11, 2013
  3. Amy Scanlon

    One thing for certain. Daniel Day-Lewis did a brilliant job acting Lincoln and Kushner definitely did his homework in getting across who the man was.

    I know when I first saw the trailer and heard the voice Day-Lewis put on, having been an avid reader of things Lincoln since I was ten, I was like “Oh good. Daniel Day-Lewis is a genius.” My mother was like “Yuck, that can’t be how Lincoln’s voice sounded.” I was like “Oh no, it’s perfect.”

    January 12, 2013
  4. Kit Stolz

    Thanks for the comment, Amy. I completely agree. For more on this fascinating question, take a look at an NYRB piece on the subject (on Kushner’s closeness to the historical record, and Day-Lewis’ portrayal of Lincoln)

    To cut to the chase, David Bromwich extolls both Kushner and Day-Lewis, but also takes a look at past Lincoln’s, and tips his hat to Henry Fonda:

    “The Lincoln whom Kushner has written and Day-Lewis has performed is full of stories, all of them effective and some of them barnyard-low. We are made to see that his skill as a master of arguments ran close beside his gift and his trove as a teller of stories. This was an aspect of Lincoln’s character that two earlier films, Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940) and Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), also leaned on heavily. In the best scene of any of the Lincoln movies, John Ford showed Henry Fonda at the door of the jailhouse in Young Mr. Lincoln, protecting two young men from a lynch mob by singling out the howling men in the crowd. He knows them all, and he talks to them. He does it with little anecdotes and characterizations. The scene is affecting because it shows civic courage and physical courage blended in a single act; and though Lincoln was never involved in a confrontation quite like it, the incident draws on knowledge of what he knew and said about mobs.

    Raymond Massey in Abe Lincoln in Illinois walked through Lincoln’s stories as if they were lines that he was told somebody might laugh at and so he rehearsed them straight. Day-Lewis tells them like a man who has studied the high adepts of the cracker barrel and is ready to lead a revival. Fonda alone—it is one of the things that make Young Mr. Lincoln a great contribution to folklore and myth—talked as if the humor were native to him, as if there was hardly a moment in a circle of men when a story might not come into his mind. A flicker of the possibility of humor was always behind his eyes. Also, the possibility of anger. Fonda remains the actor of Lincoln who can astonish by a vehemence that is not unfettered rage.”

    Fonda and Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln still doesn’t have the great range of this year’s biography, but befitting its prequel nature, does have a marvelously crisp ending.

    January 12, 2013