By John H. Foote
There are I am sure other films that display American patriotism, that wave the flag, that celebrate America. However, is anyone really in the mood to celebrate a country run by a complete buffoon? A man who in less than eighteen months has ruined the office of the President, has proven to be an arrogant, bullying, narcissist, racist who openly lies, then lies some more to cover it all up. Trump is a shameful human being who will, if he is permitted continue, bring the country to ruin or modern Civil War. Since he took office, immediately alienating and attacking the media any time they disagreed with him or exposed a lie, he has brought the country to its knees.
Barack Obama was not perfect, nor was he a perfect President, however he was a decent man, a good man with strong family values and morals. He accomplished much in his two terms, and Trump seems obsessed with erasing Obama from the history books. It will never happen, but history will know Trump as a megalomaniac with a power fetish, seeking full imperialism in the United States for himself…absolute power.
Steven Spielberg’s majestic Lincoln (2012) gives an idea what a President should be in his efforts to unite the country. A brilliant literate work, made with great loving care, it remains a mystery to me how this did not win Academy Awards for Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay Adaptation.
The opening sequence of the film is truly breathtaking as we see a group of young men speaking with President Lincoln, portrayed with startling accuracy by the great Daniel Day-Lewis. Watching the actor, was there anyone who doubted they had not just encountered Lincoln? It was breathtaking to behold, acting at its finest.
As the Civil War winds down, the beleaguered President knows he has a limited time to abolish slavery, and works diligently behind the scenes to do it. Wheeling, dealing, cajoling, humiliating, he does what it takes to get the Amendment passed, but nothing illegal, nothing he would be ashamed of doing. As he rides his horse past the dead, the land and cities of the town torn apart, he is ashamed it ever came to war, that it happened on his watch. He knows it falls upon him to heal the nation.
More than anything, Lincoln (2012) gives us a President who put his country first, ahead of himself and his own ego. Lincoln loved America, but more he loved the idea of America, where all men could live free under the rules of the Constitution. The film is the most deeply patriotic I have ever seen because it does so without flag waving, because it’s patriotism is inherently felt in every frame of the film, every gesture and word on Lincoln, and because we want to believe our leaders are as him.
Decent, honest, men and women we can trust.
Oh, that it were so today.
Happy Birthday America. I hope that bright, shining hero or heroine emerges soon to guide you out of the darkness of the Trump regime.
Out there is another Lincoln. He or she just need be found
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.