Loved the movie, but hated the green screens

I couldn’t wait until Lincoln came out, and so last weekend I went to the only theater in Chicago that’s showing it. I was drawn into the story of how Lincoln got the 13th Amendment to the Constitution passed through a lame duck Congress. I’ll never take Lincoln’s political skills for granted again.

But I’m not intending to write a movie review right now. What I do want to say is that there were scenes, beginning with the very first one shown above, that I suspect were shot using green screens. The technology is such that the actors can be filmed standing in front of a  green screen, and then a background shot can be superimposed later on. It works to hilarious effect in some situations, but can also be very distracting. And so it was with this movie.

Lincoln rides in a carriage with his son, in one scene, but I never for a second believed they were anywhere but inside a soundstage somewhere. It keeps the shot more controlled, I suppose, but it felt like a visual trick was being played on me. I’m sure this is done in most, if not all movies, but I wasn’t expecting it in Lincoln. Perhaps I just don’t get to the movies enough anymore.

But this is just a minor quibble. The movie itself deserves to be seen by anyone who wants to understand what Lincoln was up against, on both the legislative and the personal fronts. Neither was very smooth sailing for him, but he somehow held everything together well enough to accomplish some truly great things. The movie makes it clear that our collective admiration for Lincoln is well-founded.

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