Chapter 16
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Bringing Lincoln to the Big Screen

Roy Blount Jr. addresses the challenges inherent in the creation of Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln

November 19, 2012 In the November issue of Smithsonian magazine, Roy Blount Jr., a Vanderbilt graduate who has written about everything from the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup to the streets of New Orleans, details the challenge of bringing Abraham Lincoln’s presidency to the big screen in Stephen Spielberg’s new film, Lincoln.

In the piece, Blount builds a lively account of the political context of the film—the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment—by drawing rich detail from historical fact, the filmmakers’ reflections on their own research, and insightful descriptions of scenes from the film. He interviews Spielberg, Doris Kearns Goodwin, writer of the popular biography Team of Rivals, from which the film took its inspiration, and Tony Kushner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who wrote the film’s screenplay. Each of them describes the huge, engaging task of bringing to life a complicated man operating under complex historical circumstances. Of the screenplay, which at one point weighed in at 500 pages, Kushner says, “You could make a very long miniseries out of any week Lincoln occupied the White House.”

Click here for Chapter 16’s Q&A with Blount, and here for Chapter 16’s review Blount’s 2010 book Hail, Hail, Euphoria!.