Abraham Lincoln

Exactly 150 years after President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at a Pennsylvania cemetery, his message of standing up for the country’s values still apply, according to UT professors and students.

Barry Brummett, professor and chair of communication studies, said the speech is often used to provide justification for government intervention in modern wars.

“[Lincoln] says we’re founded on these principles, and we’re engaged in this great war to test these principles,” Brummett said. “We need to understand that the people who died, died for these principles. Apply that to World War I, apply that to World War II.”

Lincoln said Americans should not allow soldiers who have died in the name of freedom to die in vain.

“From these honored dead, we take increased devotion to that cause for which they were here, gave the last full measure of devotion,” Lincoln said. “We here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain.”

Radio-television-film freshman Carl Little said Lincoln’s message of national unity is relevant to partisanship in modern American politics.

“What Abe was fighting for was unity,” Little said. “Let’s be able to compromise — 150 years later, we’re still dealing with the same problems Abe addressed.”

In his speech, Lincoln said the soldiers who died fighting for a united country had a noble purpose.

“We have come to dedicate a portion of [this battlefield] as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live,” Lincoln said. “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, while it can never forget what they did here.”

Associate history professor Robert Olwell said until recently, people overlooked the speech because of its brevity.

“It was not in the style of what was considered good oratory which tended to be flowery and filled with classical illusions,” Olwell said. “In fact, Lincoln was not the main act at Gettysburg. They had Edward Everett, who was the main show. People came to hear Everett, who talked for two hours. Lincoln’s address takes two minutes.”

Brummett said Lincoln’s 270-word speech was intended to be telegraphed and reprinted in newspapers nationwide.

“It was that interesting intersection of change in media that contributed to its power, to its effect,” Brummett said. “Now we’ve really moved into the age where brevity is what we expect from media.”

Its brevity has played a role in the preservation of the speech throughout history, Brummett said. 

“It was the fact that it was short and sweet and to the point that created the impact then and since,” Brummett said.

Director/producer Ben Affleck accepts the award for best picture for "Argo" during theOscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Photo Credit: AP Exchange | Daily Texan Staff

This live blog was written during the 2013 Academy Awards.  It is a live, slightly snarky feed of everything that happened and did not happen at this year's Academy Awards. 

11:01 In the most annoying way possible, the 2013 Academy Awards end with the ever grating Kristin Chenoweth and Seth MacFarlane. They sing some horrible song which reminds us only of how horrible things were before they started awarding the good statues. 

10:54 The Oscar for BEST MOTION PICTURE is awarded to ARGO presented by Michelle Obama. These producers are all strange men who don't know where to stand. Oh, except best beard George Clooney who's looking great.  Ben also has a beard. He could be nominated. He makes Jennifer Garner cry, and all of us cry, and even himself cry a little. 

10:52 Jack Nicholson announces Michelle Obama on screen from the White House. Rocking her bangs and a beautiful silver dress, Michelle deserves this honor. She should probably win. She plugs how important arts are to our country, and she is right.

10:45 Meryl Streep arrives in a very sparkly dress to present the award for BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE. The Oscar goes to Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln over Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook, Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables, Joaquin Phoenix in The Master, Denzel Washington in Flight.  He is the first actor to win three Oscars in the BEST ACTOR category. There is a standing ovation, and he looks so happy he almost looks miserable. Unlike our girl Lawrence, Day Lewis has his speech together. He thanks Abraham Lincoln.

10:40 The Oscar for BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE goes to Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook over Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty, Emmanuelle Rivera for Amour, Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Naomi Watts for the Impossible. She almost falls in her hurry up the stairs and receives a standing ovation. "This is nuts," she says, and nuts it is. Every Oscar pool is ruined by this point. Jennifer Larence looks incredible, Bradley Cooper looks so proud. Lawrence is totally scattered and has no speech. She was obviously not expecting that. 

10:32 Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas arrive to present the Oscar for BEST DIRECTOR to Ang Lee for LIFE OF PI for their FOURTH Oscar of the night. Lee thanks the movie god and thanks the 3,000 people who worked with him on Life of Pi. 

10:26 BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY is awarded to Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained. Tarantino is a total bozo. He's rambling about character choosing, and calling himself awesome for his casting choices. He "peace out"s the audience.

10:22 Seth. Please stop. Dustin Hoffman and Charlize Theron arrive with a massive height disparity to present the award for BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY goes to Argo by Chris Terrio.  He apparently sprinted to the stage. What is this bad situation? Can you tell us that story? 

10:08 The cast of Chicago appears on stage to present the Oscar for BEST MOVIE SCORE to Life of Pi. Richard Gere makes a joke. It's funnier than anything MacFarland has said. Which is to say, marginally funny. Life of Pi is sweeping up Oscars. Norah Jones arrives on stage she looks nothing like herself. Is she even famous anymore? The Oscar for BEST ORIGINAL SONG goes to Skyfall by Adele who apparently has a last name. It is her first Academy Award. She cries immediately. Some other bro is there. He did something. He does not cry. 

10:01 Another not Beyonce arrives, this time in the form of Barbara Streisand. She receives a standing ovation. Take that Adele.

9:57 Beard number 1 aka George Clooney arrives for "In Memoriam." He says we could dedicate an entire show to it, you know, a show that NO ONE would watch. 

9:50 Selma Hayek looks like she tried to dress up as Cleopatra for a sorority Halloween party. They recap some Governor's Awards, which goes to people who love movies and have done great things for film. No one explains why they are called "Governor's."

9:48 Daniel Radcliffe and Kristen Stewart arrive on stage. Fittingly, the Harry Potter music plays. Stewart looks like she walked through some brush backstage and got her hair sucked into a whirlpool. They present the Oscar for PRODUCTION DESIGN to Lincoln. Christoph returns to the screen from earlier, and we still love him. 

9:43 Nicole Kidman shows us the next three Best Picture nominees with Silver Lining Playbook, Django Unchained, and Amour. Despite Argo's editing win and thus my prediction for best picture, Silver Lining Playbook was by far my favorite of the nominations. 

9:35 Jennifer Lawrence introduces Adele to sing "Skyfall." Adele looks like the sky fell onto her dress. There is no standing ovation for Adele. She is the first singing number to not receive one. The COLD SHOULDER award goes to Adele.

9:32 Sandra Bullock presents the award for FILM EDITING goes to William Goldenberg for Argo

9:29 The Academy Preseident takes the stage and explains a future Oscar museum. It will be the "first of it's kind." It sounds like a museum. REPRESENT. Jennifer Brofer of UT AUSTIN is on the stage!

9:23 Anne Hathaway thanks everyone and bows to her competitors. She is--as she has been since her transformation into Princess Mia--eloquent, elegent, and beautiful. She thanks her husband, who is teary. Who knew Anne Hathaway had a husband!? 

9:20 MacFarlane tries to convince us the Von Trapps are coming. His jokes are all bad. I am not laughing. Christopher Plummer joins us on stage. People laugh at his jokes. He says he has 30 films coming and we are ready for all of them. He presents the Oscar for BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE. It goes to Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables over Amy Adams for the Master, Sally Field for Lincoln, Helen Hunt for The Sessions, and Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook. 

9:17 The JAWS wrap it up music is old. 

9:09 Facial hair is really back. Everyone is bearded. Beards, beards, beards, beards, beards. There is some learning going on now which is kind of a bummer, but not as much of a bummer as MacFarlane. Mark Wahlberg comes to the stage with some bear that was in a movie that no one saw. The Oscar for BEST SOUND MIXING goes to Les Miserables. The Oscar for SOUND EDITING  is a tie. WHAT? Is this soccer!? This is art. Can't we just be judgement about these subjective things.  The first goes to Zero Dark Thirty and the second goes to Skyfall.

9:01 The musical tribute moves to Les Mis. Hugh Jackman's voice is still not good enough for this role. Also, facial hair, facial hair everywhere. Anne Hathaway is beautiful. Her lip quivers with "One Day More." Samantha Barkman looks like she could be the American Kate Middleton. The entire cast of Les Mis is on stage, and they look just as upset as they did in the movie. French flags drop from the ceiling. They receive the second standing ovation of the night. 

9:00 Still "not Beyonce" continues to sing. Girl's got pipes, but no Blue Ivy. 

8:53 John Travolta lists 1,000 names for a tribute to great musicals. He mispronounces Catherine Zeta Jones's name, but it doesn't matter because she's on stage, and she looks awesome.  No one knows why someone who is NOT BEYONCE is singing the Dreamgirls tribute. Where is Beyonce? Where is she? 

8:49 Seth MacFarlane compares the Oscars to church, which is maybe possible since he's offending everyone. Jennifer Garner is wearing all the diamonds. BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM goes to AMOUR which is unsurprising because, I don't know, they're nominated for best picture. He thanks his wife and its adorable. 

8:42 Ben Affleck is bringing facial hair back. The Oscar for BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE goes to Searching for Sugarman by two men whose names were not on the screen for long enough for me to figure out how to spell them. The JAWS theme song returns, and they leave. 

8:37 Liam Neeson gives us three more previews for best picture with Argo,  Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty. Liam Neeson could have probably also played Lincoln. 

8:32 Kerry Washington and Jamie Foxx arrive to present BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM to Curfew by Sean Christensen. He notes his short time window, salutes someone, thanks his "devishly handsom father," and leaves. The Oscar for BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT goes to Inocente by Shaun Fine and Andrea Nix Fine. They talk about supporting the arts and the music plays even though Amy Adams eyes are welling and we all love her so much. 

8:21 Hallie Berry appears to celebrate the 50th anniversary of James Bond in motion pictures. There is, of course, a play by play of Bond girls in bikinis, some explosions, some car chases, and more Bond girls. Some lady appears dressed like an Oscar statue to sing about Bond. My guess is that this is about the time for Meryl Streep to arrive late with Starbucks in hand during the standing ovation.

8:16  Seth MacFarlane looks like a longer-haired Ken doll, and has about the same sense of humor. Channing Tatum and Jennifer Aniston arrive on stage, thank god. No one looks good in this lighting. The Oscar for ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN goes to Jaqueline Duran for Anna Karenina.  Who is all of our hero since she also did Atonement and Pride and Predjudice. The Oscar for ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP AND HAIR STYLING goes to Lisa Westcott and Julie Darnell for their face dirt application in  Les Miserables. One of them appears to be wearing pink jeans. Who doesn't know Oscar dress code!? 

8:09 The award for ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS, which is maybe the same award as cinematography with totally different nominees(?), goes to Life of Pi again, because it was beautiful. The first of these award winers tries to make a joke about meta-reality, literally no one laughs.  He keeps talking over increadibly loud "wrap it up music" because despite the Oscar's faking love for visual effects, they really don't care. 

8:06 Samuel L. Jackson is in a red velvet blazer. The Avengers present the award for ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY, aka pretty movie award, to Claudio Miranda for Life of Pi. He is rambling about how much he loves his movie and getting teary. "Oh my god, I can't even speak," he says, which is kind of true.  

8:00 Reese Witherspoon joins us with perfect hair waves. She talks about the Best Picture Nominees. We see previews for Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Beasts of the Southern Wild. MacFarlane calls Jennifer Lawrence old, and makes jokes on the expense of the nine year old.  He is the worst, but he welcomes six of the Avengers, which we like--mostly because he's leaving. 

7:55 Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy join us with the gold envelope for some jokes. The award for BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM goes to "Paperman" by John Kahrs. It is his first Academy Award and nomination. His speech is short and sweet, he's no Christopher Waltz. The BEST ANIMATED FILM award goes to Brave  Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman. Andrews has on a kilt, which no one "just happens to be wearing." 

7:47 We finally get Octavia Spencer with a gold envelope for ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE. And the Oscar goes to Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained. He bows to his competitors and tears up in his speech behind his thick rimmed black glasses. He looks genuinely surprised, and gives an inspiring speech.   Everyone falls in love with Christoph Waltz.

7:45 This intro is still going. It shouldn't be.

7:38 There is an inappropriate "fake" musical number titled "We saw your boobs." This intro is rough. MacFarlane asks how to fix this and the answer is hidden from everyone. He introduces Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron to dance to "The Way You Look Tonight."  Channing Tatum can dance, but MacFarlane still can't sing.  He welcomes Daniel Radcliffe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to dance and sing with him. I'm ignoring everyone but Gordon-Levitt.

7:30 We are welcomed to the Oscars by our host Seth MacFarlane. For the first time, the Oscars has a theme "music in films." Probably because Adele is here. MacFarlane makes a couple of jokes that do actually seem funny, but he introduces the Oscars with some sort of roll call that allows him to make these jokes. He makes a slavery joke. Is this okay? He moves on to Django Unchained and also makes a Chris Brown Rihanna reference. A screen descends behind him with Star Trek's Captain Kirk to stop him from "destroying the Academy Awards." Kirk asks "why can't Tina and Amy host everything?" which is really all any of us want. 

7:22 Every red carpet host is incredibly awkward. At the five minute mark we are inside some producing truck where everyone looks awkward. Queen Latifah manages to interact with them like they are normal, and it is an incredibly feat of acting on her part. They are now sitting down, and the real show will start soon. Chenoweth brings up Texas football, and it's horrible. 

7:15 Jamie Foxx really embarrasses his 19 year old college daughter who looks very uncomfortable and unhappy. She looks like someone stole her smile while her father hits on the interviewer. The camera cuts away from some of the most brilliant television drama the Oscars has seen thus far to visit Daniel Day Lewis who is a snooze in comparison.

7:12 Anne Hathaway gives us a preview that the cast will be performing. Kristin Chenoweth's voice still feels like a cheese grater. Especially as she tells Hathaway akwardly that "her hair is growing back nicely." There is a "magic" box they are trying to get us behind. Anne Hathaway guesses that Dorothy's slippers are in there, and people say bad things about the Smithsonian and I cry. 

7:05 George Clooney is unamused with everyone's antics because he's been in Berlin. He promises to drink and makes snarky faces at the hosts, but looks very very nice in his tux.  When Sandra Bullock is interviewed, there are a lot of weird things going on with the sound including Kristin Chenoweth's weird mousy voice. 

7:01 Jennifer Anniston calls the Oscars, "ya know, a magical piece of time," but does say that she will only be attending only one party in her red Valentino dress. The only important people thus far are named Jennifer. The Garner Jennifer claims that she's "just a puddle," which is kind of what the back of her purple dress looks like.   

6:55 Best Dressed has gone to Jennifer Lawrence. No one is quite sure who decided this. Amy Adams and Anne Hathaway were given honorable mentions. 

Daniel Day-Lewis portraying Abraham Lincoln in the film “Lincoln.” (Photo courtesy of DreamWorks and Twentieth Century Fox)

Steven Spielberg has made plenty of films about war, films like “Saving Private Ryan”  and “War Horse” that have painted alternately horrifying and moving pictures of the great American conflicts. “Lincoln” is his first film about making peace. A healthy dose of biopic tendencies (elements?) and a stirring performance from Daniel Day-Lewis as the titular president result in a pedigree that basically screams “Give me Oscars!” Thankfully, “Lincoln” is more than that, a surprisingly specific and engaging look at one of Abraham Lincoln’s most important acts in the White House — passing the 13th Amendment and ending the Civil War.

The film takes place in a very small window of Abraham Lincoln’s (Day-Lewis) life, just after his re-election as president. The Civil War continues to tear the nation apart, and before the inevitable peacetime comes, Lincoln is determined to pass the 13th Amendment, which would ban slavery. With the help of cabinet member William Seward (David Strathairn) and Congressman Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones), Lincoln sets about gathering up the votes necessary to push the amendment through.

Spielberg’s last collaboration with screenwriter Tony Kushner gave audiences the divisive “Munich,” and “Lincoln” is a more accomplished work in almost every way. Both films lack Spielberg’s trademark sentimentality, but “Lincoln” has the added challenge of making congressional bureaucracy into a compelling story. However, Spielberg brings some immediacy and importance to the story and even manages to wring suspense out of something as simple as counting votes, never letting the viewer get lost in the many historical figures on screen.

Perhaps the most interesting result of Spielberg and Kushner’s collaboration is the picture that emerges of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln has become a major part of the American mythos, and it could have been easy to coast on that established knowledge without ever gaining any insight into the man himself. Thankfully, Kushner and Day-Lewis bring such a measured, likable sense of purpose to Lincoln, never failing to humanize him but also never forgetting what a monumentally important figure he is in the political landscape.

This Lincoln is a spectacular orator, a storyteller at heart. He can spin a yarn to make a point, calm a crowd or win a vote, and the people around him are alternately entranced or infuriated by Lincoln’s endless supply of anecdotes and parables. Day-Lewis turns in an expectedly transformative performance, and his Lincoln is full of depth and passion, warmth and humor.

Jones has one of “Lincoln’s” larger roles as Thaddeus Stevens, a rigid abolitionist whose extremist opinions are as threatening to the amendment as the more conservative views across the aisle. Jones spells out some of the film’s key themes: the slow pace of political progress and the need for compromise to get anything done. It’s a message that seems resolutely pointed, a reminder about today’s politics as much as it is an illustration of the past.

The film is packed with familiar faces, and almost everyone Lincoln encounters is an accomplished character actor swooping in for a quick grace note. The film’s cast is absolutely stacked, and actors like Hal Holbrook, Jackie Earle Haley, John Hawkes and James Spader all bring something to the table. On the other hand, the film’s cast can get a bit distracting, as many scenes are simple guessing games of who’s going to turn up next. Often, it’s a pleasant surprise, but sometimes it can be extremely jarring. For example, Adam Driver from “Girls” shows up for a bit part, and it’s hard to pay attention to Lincoln’s anecdotes when you’re flashing back to one of Lena Dunham’s trademark mortifying sex scenes.

It’s interesting that the biggest rising star in “Lincoln” is easily the film’s weakest link, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt had to make a career misstep sooner or later. Not that he doesn’t do fine, noble work as Lincoln’s oldest son, but his scenes grind the film to a halt and never manage to rise above perfunctory. Gordon-Levitt is a strong, likable presence, but his role seems shoehorned in and lacks any sort of payoff.

“Lincoln” is the type of film that practically oozes pedigree, but it’s far from the snoozer many might expect. It’s not just a showcase for Day-Lewis, not just a snapshot of a specific moment in American history and not just a portrait of one of our country’s greatest presidents. It’s a spectacularly acted, immaculately constructed piece of entertainment, and with a premise as dry as “Lincoln,” that’s about the highest praise you can give.

Movie: Lincoln
Director: Steven Spielberg
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 149 minutes

Photo Credit: Daily Texan Comics | Daily Texan Staff

A film with a title like “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is going to have to fight very hard to earn anything but a derisive snort, simply for its audaciously silly title. Fortunately, the film itself, adapted by Seth Grahame-Smith from his novel of the same name, strikes an appropriate balance between the serious and the ridiculous. The result is a unique, strangely patriotic twist on historical fiction.

The film’s premise is right there in the title, and director Timur Bekmambetov doesn’t waste any time getting to the meat of it. When Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) was just a boy, his mother’s death by vampire inspires a lifelong hatred of the undead. With the help of Dominic Cooper’s Henry Sturgess, Lincoln becomes a proficient vampire hunter, even as he chafes against the required anonymity of the job.

Timur Bekmambetov got his start in vampire fiction with his incomplete “Night Watch” trilogy. The vampires of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” are vicious, feral and menacing. Bekmambetov also stages some entertaining action scenes, full of slow-motion dismemberments and aggressive defiance of the laws of physics and logic. Even so, it seems like every major action beat takes place in a shapeless location where smoke or fog dominates the landscape.

While this can occasionally add mood to a scene, it comes across as lazy. In contrast, this spring, “The Raid: Redemption” staged some truly phenomenal action scenes because of the precise geography that the film’s director, Gareth Evans, laid out cleanly in every scene. Here, it seems like Bekmambetov simply wanted a crutch to lean on while editing these scenes together, and obscuring anything outside the immediate action was just the easiest way to ensure that.

A film like this also has to absolutely nail its casting, and the film asks a lot of the mostly unknown Benjamin Walker, who has to portray one of America’s most certifiable myths while adding a whole new level of ridiculousness to his legend. Fortunately, Walker does a pretty fine job. He’s got the build to portray Lincoln as an intimidating physical presence, and he brings a sense of decency and righteousness to the character — a genuine desire to make the world around him better, be it through the slaying of vampires or the freeing of slaves.

However, as “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” goes on, the silliness becomes more and more pronounced, with the third act crippling every performance by saddling the human characters with distinctly bad old-age makeup. Benjamin Walker takes on the look of a plastic-y Liam Neeson, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (playing Mary Todd Lincoln) simply gets a little grayer.

But the supporting cast never really shines, anyway — Winstead is horribly out of place in the film’s period setting. Anthony Mackie, who plays Will Johnson, Lincoln’s black best friend (yes, the movie isn’t exactly subtle), gets some noble moments but not much character to work with. Cooper seems to be having the most fun with his mentor figure, but even his performance too often veers towards campy, especially in his hilariously overwrought take on vampiric transformation.

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is a uniquely American film. Abraham Lincoln is one of America’s most famous presidents, so to alter his myth so substantially, a film must approach the subject with not only confidence but also with respect. Thankfully, the film has nothing but respect for Lincoln, and it goes out of its way to show what a decent man he was in real life even as his fictional counterpart slaughters vampires. “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” doesn’t offer up many surprises, but it delivers exactly what its title promises, which is more than enough to earn it a mild recommendation.