Although The Straight Hype fully endorses Mr. Litvak and Saving Lincoln, his participation in this interview is in no way an endorsement of the views and opinions expressed on this blog.
1 - Before we get into the movie, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in Chile and grew up in NY. I was a lawyer for two years before I went to film school. My writing partner is also my wife, Nina. I blog at AccidentalTalmudist.com and I believe a good conversation is one in which both parties learn something neither knew before.
2 - Over the last few decades, we've seen the story of President Lincoln portrayed at different times in his life, told through the eyes of many different people. Robert Redford's The Conspirator was told though the eyes of Mary Surratt's defense attorney, Frederick Aiken; The Day Lincoln Was Shot was recounted through the eyes of John Wilkes Booth; Stephen Spielberg's latest blockbuster Lincoln draws from historical accounts of those who served under him in his cabinet; even Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter peered through the eyes of Joshua Speed and William Johnson. What drew you to Ward Hill Lamon?
Ward Hill Lamon was President Lincoln's best friend and self-appointed bodyguard. He's the ideal narrator because he was so close to Lincoln - a daily companion. Historians pay him less respect because he was an emotional fellow, often lacking objectivity about Lincoln's actions, but no one questions his loyalty. He would at times grow furious with Lincoln for being so careless with his personal safety, but he remained a faithful friend and protector. He also shared Lincoln's sense of humor, and entertained him with songs and banjo-playing. And he was a Southerner protecting the President while so many of his brethren were doing just the opposite.
3 - Oftentimes, when going into a Lincoln film, if you're not a Lincoln buff, you feel a bit lost. For example, the opening sequence of The Conspirator almost pre-supposed the audience did their homework. Will Saving Lincoln be accessible to audience members who may not have a broader knowledge of Lincoln, his life, and his legacy?
Absolutely. Our movie is primarily about Lincoln the man - what he experienced at the center of America's bloodiest conflict. The pressure on him was unrelenting. Congressmen, generals, newspaper editors...even his own party were all arrayed him against him. They called him feeble, unsophisticated, ineffective, etc. They all underestimated him, but they made his life very difficult throughout his administration. And he lost many people to untimely death - family and friends, as well as the soldiers he cared so deeply about.
That is a complex and loaded question. I'm not a historian, but I know that there were many currents involved in that storm. Lincoln certainly wanted to reunite his people - he never considered the South to be another country. Southerners remained Americans in his eyes and he wanted to leave the bloodshed behind for good. Others felt differently, and would have imposed their views whether he was President or not. I do believe, however, that the South lost its best friend in Washington CIty that day.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to our readers. We look forward to seeing Saving Lincoln and wish you much success.
Thank you so much - your support for an independent film like ours is truly appreciated. I invite all your readers to visit Saving Lincoln on a Kickstarter, where they can view our trailer, see how the movie was made, hear a song recorded for the film by the legendary Dave Alvin, and become part of the Saving Lincoln story: http://kck.st/RV4QOh
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