Steven Spielberg Talks LINCOLN and ROBOPOCALYPSE

     September 29, 2011


After his three-year absence after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Steven Spielberg has come back with a vengeance, at least in terms of output.  This December he’ll have The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse (one for box office, one for Oscars) and next November or December, he’ll have his Lincoln biopic followed by the action film Robopocalypse on July 3, 2013.  As Tintin gears up for its European tour, Spielberg has been doing the press rounds and commented on Lincoln and Robopocalypse.  For his robot disaster flick, Spielberg seemed a little uncertain on the release date, but he says he’s already in pre-production and hopes to shoot in 2012.  He adds, “It reminded me of Michael Crichton.”  Before that makes you shudder, keep in mind that he took the poorly-written Jurassic Park and made magic out of that. [Update: I should clarify that Jurassic Park has a strong central idea and good characters, but Spielberg and David Koepp tightened the plotting and excised dumb scenes like where Hammond is eaten by tiny dinosaurs and the ending where the characters are denied re-entry into the U.S.]

Hit the jump for what Spielberg had to say about Lincoln.

team-of-rivals-book-cover-01In his interview with Empire, Spielberg reiterated his intention to take Doris Kearns Goodwin’s historical tome Team of Rivals and put the focus on the final months of Abraham Lincoln’s life.  The Oscar-winning director elaborated:

We start shooting in October. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals is much too big a book to be a movie, so the Lincoln story only takes place in the last few months of his Presidency and life. I was interested in how he ended the war through all the efforts of his generals…but more importantly how he passed the 13th Amendment into constitutional law. The Emancipation Proclamation was a war powers act and could have been struck down by any court after the war ended…But what permanently ended slavery was the very close vote in the House of Representatives over the 13th Amendment – that story I’m excited to tell.”

It’s an interesting point to focus on, especially because what’s fascinating about Goodwin’s book is how Lincoln not only brought together his Presidential rivals, but how each member of his cabinet was crucial in bringing the Civil War to a close.  I don’t think Spielberg is missing the point of the novel nor do I think he must use it.  However, people shouldn’t think that this is Amistad 2:

Amistad is much more visual than Lincoln is going to be. It feels very much like a procedural. It shows Lincoln at work, not just Lincoln standing around posing for the history books…arguably the greatest working President in American history doing some of the greatest work for the world.

If that means Lincoln is The West Wing: 1865, bring it on.


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