Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Studio Cancels All Screenings of 'No Good Deed' to Preserve Shocking Twist That It's Probably Terrible Studio Cancels All Screenings of 'No Good Deed' to Preserve Shocking Twist That It's Probably Terrible 'No Good Deed' Reviews: And the Twist Is That It's Good! (Not Really) 'No Good Deed' Reviews: And the Twist Is That It's Good! (Not Really) 'The Cobbler' Reviews: 'Makes Me Want to Upgrade Everything I've Ever Seen Half a Star' 'The Cobbler' Reviews: 'Makes Me Want to Upgrade Everything I've Ever Seen Half a Star' 'The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them': 'Between Just Enough and a Bit Too Much' 'The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them': 'Between Just Enough and a Bit Too Much' Daily Reads: The Death of Adulthood, the Future of Film in 'Snowpiercer' and More Daily Reads: The Death of Adulthood, the Future of Film in 'Snowpiercer' and More Kevin Smith Is OK With Critics Now Kevin Smith Is OK With Critics Now Why the Unanimous Praise for 'Boyhood' Is Bad for Film Criticism — and for 'Boyhood' Why the Unanimous Praise for 'Boyhood' Is Bad for Film Criticism — and for 'Boyhood' 'Phoenix' Reviews: A Postwar-set Masterwork By Way of 'Vertigo' 'Phoenix' Reviews: A Postwar-set Masterwork By Way of 'Vertigo' 'While We're Young': Noah Baumbach's Xer-Millennial Comedy Ponders the Difference Between Sharing People's Lives and Stealing Them 'While We're Young': Noah Baumbach's Xer-Millennial Comedy Ponders the Difference Between Sharing People's Lives and Stealing Them Criticwire Classic of the Week: Federico Fellini's '8 1/2' Criticwire Classic of the Week: Federico Fellini's '8 1/2' 'The Duke of Burgundy': With Butterflies and BDSM, a Kinky Romance Woos Critics 'The Duke of Burgundy': With Butterflies and BDSM, a Kinky Romance Woos Critics 'Men, Women & Children': Frowny Face Emoticon 'Men, Women & Children': Frowny Face Emoticon Kevin Smith Turns to Horror With 'Tusk,' and the Results Are Insane: First Reviews Kevin Smith Turns to Horror With 'Tusk,' and the Results Are Insane: First Reviews 'The Expendables 3' Torrent and the Techno-Utopian Delusion 'The Expendables 3' Torrent and the Techno-Utopian Delusion Comparing Lena Dunham to Woody Allen Is Unfair — to Lena Dunham Comparing Lena Dunham to Woody Allen Is Unfair — to Lena Dunham Did 'Edge of Tomorrow' Just Get a New Title for Home Video? Did 'Edge of Tomorrow' Just Get a New Title for Home Video? 'The Maze Runner' First Reviews: Once More Around the Dystopian YA Block 'The Maze Runner' First Reviews: Once More Around the Dystopian YA Block Now Streaming: 'Ida,' 'Last Year at Marienbad' and 'A Woman is a Woman' Now Streaming: 'Ida,' 'Last Year at Marienbad' and 'A Woman is a Woman' Daily Reads: The Disgusting But Important 'Wetlands,' Comic Book Movies That Thankfully Never Happened and More Daily Reads: The Disgusting But Important 'Wetlands,' Comic Book Movies That Thankfully Never Happened and More 'The Counselor's Extended Cut Is Inspired Madness 'The Counselor's Extended Cut Is Inspired Madness

From the Wire: A Jewish Lincoln?

Criticwire By Matt Singer | Criticwire November 12, 2012 at 1:36PM

Does the new biopic by Steven Spielberg turn the Great Emanicpator into the Great Oy-manicpator?
2
"Lincoln."
"Lincoln."

With much of film culture focused on a fictional freedom fighter last week, there wasn't enough talk about the historical freedom fighter who also debuted on theater screens Friday: "Lincoln," directed by Steven Spielberg. Critical reaction to Spielberg's unorthodox biopic has been strong -- with a 92% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a B+ average on Criticwire -- but not particularly in depth, at least not yet. One notable exception is an insightful and well-researched essay by J. Hoberman at Tablet Magazine which considers the film -- directed by Spielberg and written by playwright Tony Kushner, two of America's highest-profile Jewish artists -- as a "Jewish" representation of Abraham Lincoln.

"As imagined by Spielberg and Kushner, Lincoln’s Lincoln is the ultimate mensch. He is a skilled natural psychologist, an interpreter of dreams, and a man blessed with an extraordinarily clever and subtle legal mind. A master storyteller who speaks in parables and employs slyly self-deprecating humor, he is a small 'd' democrat glad to converse with anyone, willing to shoulder the solitary burden of historical tragedy, and, although capable of righteous wrath, ruled by compassion for all."

Hoberman then goes on to trace how the Great Emancipator -- should we call him the Great Oy-mancipator in this case? Sure, why not -- was championed and exalted almost immediately after his death by American Jews who recognized a modern day Moses in his story. Like that founder of the Jewish faith, Hoberman says, Lincoln was a man who "successfully led the oppressed out of bondage but was unable himself to enter the Promised Land." Using excerpts from historical speeches, he connects the history of American Judaism with Lincoln hero worship. 

I confess when I watched "Lincoln" last week, none of this struck me -- but reading Hoberman's piece, it now feels facepalmingly obvious. That's good film criticism for you -- it goes straight-up Old Testament on you.

Read more of "Avraham Lincoln Avinu."

This article is related to: Lincoln, Steven Spielberg, From the Wire, J. Hoberman


E-Mail Updates