Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Premier Night of "Lincoln"

We were just bonkers to see the new "Lincoln" movie!
On Friday the 16th of November 2012 a few of us who reenact the American Civil War era dressed in our period finest and spent a fine evening together to see the new "Lincoln" movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham and Sally Field as his wife Mary.
Back in the 1990's seeing a period movie while wearing clothing of the time was pretty commonplace. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it was the "Star Wars" crowd that started this whole "dress like the characters in the movie" deal. At least, for me they were the first that I've heard of doing this practice.
Anyhow, I've only done this twice - the first time was for "The Conspirator" a couple years ago and the other was, well, just two days ago (as this is written).
Both times were very enjoyable, but for "Lincoln" it was a blast. The main reason is because we made it into a sort of event. In fact, I actually did make it into a Facebook event and invited (or tried to invite) as many of my reenactor friends as I could, though I inadvertently forgot to invite a few (and for that I am truly sorry. Next time I will just announce without invitations).
So, for the "Lincoln" movie I had a pretty fair response with a total of 18 reenactors showing up dressed in their period clothing. Most were from one of the units I belong to - the 21st Michigan - though there were members from the 17th Michigan, the 24th Michigan, and a couple of independents that joined us as well.
Many of us began our evening by going to a restaurant near the theater - a nice reasonably-priced family joint that had a fine variety of food to choose from. We created quite a stir upon entering the place, and the stares and 'hidden' camera phones snapped away from the other patrons. A few souls were 'brave' enough to actually come up to ask what we were doing.
It was a perfect start to our evening.
My wife and I at the local premier of the new "Lincoln" movie
At the theater we created another stir. Well, first off there was some concern that they wouldn't allow us to enter the theater while in 'costume' due to what happened last summer in Colorado with the jerk dressed in a Batman costume shooting the place (and people) up. However, we explained that for our period clothing we do not have our faces covered and that we dress authentically to the period in which we represent. It was pretty obvious to the management that we were all going as a group of living historians and not as nut cases - at least not violent ones! (Come on...I'm just kidding here...)
The latest Twilight movie also opened on this day and I would venture to bet that the greater majority of patrons were there to see that. I, of course, played into that and when a customer would ask me which movie we were here to see I answered with "Twilight."
Some actually believed it. And to top that, I asked one high school aged girl who didn't seem to be particularly smart in history (she asked me if I was Thomas Jefferson!) what war was going on during the time of President Lincoln's administration.
*sigh* She had no idea whatsoever.
Even her mother didn't know...
But we had fun taking photos and speaking to those patrons with a bit more intelligence.
A few of our reenacting friends did not dress in their period clothing for a variety of reasons, but I was still very glad they came. To me, whether you dress period or modern, I'd rather have you there than not.
There is not much that is sadder than seeing reenactors dressed modern while their friends are dressed period!
The movie itself was done very well. It was not the typical Lincoln movie you've seen previously. It was an intense drama about the passing of the 13th Amendment - did I say intense? - and everything about it lent to a strong taste of authenticity. Day-Lewis, Field, Tommy Lee Jones, and the other actors did an amazing and realistic job portraying men and women from history. As far as I could tell, the clothing and fashions were spot on and the sets were exceptional - very authentic. The sound effects are the real thing - click HERE to read about that. Day-Lewis portrayed Lincoln very realistically; all of the mannerisms I've read on the man and of his contemporaries were here. But the best part of this movie, to me, was they didn't deify Lincoln and make him out to be some god-like mythological creature. They, instead, showed him as a human, they showed the whys and wherefores of those who didn't like the man, and spoke of his own questionable 'trampling' of the Constitution. They also showed him as one who believed strongly in his case and cause. It was as balanced as I have seen of the man yet on film, and for Hollywood that is very commendable. 
This was a special evening for those of us who attended

Seeing a historical movie while dressed in period clothing may seem a bit of an oxymoron. But it's really not. Each of us does this sort of thing for differing reasons. My own personal reason(s) for dressing up in modern surroundings are mainly because anytime I do something historical, dressing period accents it, even if it's in a modern setting. I do also enjoy the general public's reaction and, for the most part, the questions and discussions that sometime ensue.
But when the opportunity to get a decently large group together to do something like this arises, it kind of becomes a celebratory atmosphere.
And that made it a night to remember!



Jimio said...

Great Post and a very nice Christmas Tree to pose in front of

SteveH said...

It sure looks like everyone had a good time. Thank you Ken for sharing your love of history. I look forward to seeing the movie with my Seventh Michigan Infantry family on Dec 1st. Sincerely , your fellow time traveler, Steve

An Historical Lady said...

Oh Ken! What a fantastic post~Thank you!! I avidly read every word, feeling like I was there for a fantastic 'period' evening out right along with all of you!
I have read every book on Lincoln out there for years, and we'll see this film when it's out on dvd.
I am so glad you all did this and had a lovely night out. This is just the kind of thing Adam and I love to do---going to restaurants, etc., dressed in our 18thc. clothing.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, my friend~

vintagevisions27 said...

I can't wait to see that movie. I recently met a lady who worked on some of the costumes.

GinaBVictorian said...

Hi Ken! You guys looked like you were having such a great time! I wish I could have been there with you all! I would have loved to have seen how people responded to your period clothing. How funny, but I LOVE it! I cannot wait to see the movie. On Wednesday I hope! Thanks for sharing the fun! Gina

Jessica Marie said...

This gave me a great idea. :)