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A look at the past through the eyes of Spielberg's 'Lincoln'


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SALT LAKE CITY — Steven Spielberg's newest movie "Lincoln" is being called the film of the year.

"Lincoln" has been one of the most anticipated films in years. Spielberg purposely did not release the movie until after the election because of its political tone. But he believes most people will see it because of our shared fascination with the country's 16th president.

The film follows the last four months of Abraham Lincoln's life as he tries to end the Civil War and convince Congress to pass the 13th amendment.

Considered the country's leading expert on Lincoln, professor Eric Foner of Columbia University said Lincoln possessed the qualities people like in political leaders.

"(He) cared about those less fortunate than himself, cared about the nation, and although very ambitious — very ambitious — but was not willing to sacrifice principle to ambition," Foner described.

Hundreds of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fought in the Civil War, mostly with the Union, but there were dozens with the Confederacy. BYU professor Kenneth Alford, a retired U.S. Army Colonel, has edited a new book: "Civil War Saints."


(He) cared about those less fortunate than himself, cared about the nation, and although very ambitious — very ambitious — but was not willing to sacrifice principle to ambition.

–Eric Foner


Lorenzo Dow Watson, from Maine, enlisted at the age of 16. He fought with his cousin John at Shiloh.

"Years later, Low, as he's called, writes a poem that's very touching," Alford said. "He talks about what it was like to be there as his cousin's life leaves him. It really brings the war home when you read it."

Spielberg hopes audiences will experience the emotions of the past and think about the present through Lincoln's eyes.

"By the end of his life, he has certainly the status of greatness that we ought to admire," Foner said.

Critics are raving about "Lincoln," particularly the performance of Daniel Day Lewis. And Hollywood is abuzz with talk of Oscar nominations. However, the film does have a weekend box office competition, going against James Bond and Twilight.

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