A SOBERINGLY high number of US presidents have been involved in scandals, most of which were brought to the attention of the US electorate. Among the many misdemeanours committed while occupying the highest office in the land were marrying a woman who was not yet divorced (Andrew Jackson), a gold and whiskey imbroglio (Ulysses S Grant), graft (James Garfield), fathering a child out of wedlock (Grover Cleveland) and the Teapot Dome scam (Warren Harding).
More recently, we had Watergate (Richard Nixon), Ronald Reagan (arms for Iran), and Bill Clinton (sex, lying in a deposition). Clinton was the second president to be impeached, the first being Andrew Johnson, Abraham Lincoln’s successor, for defying Congress. Other infringements include George Bush senior breaking his promise not to introduce new taxes, his son misleading the nation about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, John Kennedy’s infidelities, Franklin Roosevelt keeping his physical disability from the public, and Teddy Roosevelt’s open arctophilia.
But, until now, Lincoln had a clean record and it was only with the publication of a graphic novel by Seth Grahame-Smith a few years ago that the Great Emancipator’s dark secret was revealed to his incredulous admirers and detractors.
The film version of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is directed by Timor Bekmambetov, who made Night Watch and Day Watch in his native Russia before moving to Hollywood to make Wanted, all of them effects-laden spectacles of little distinction. His current offering is similarly reliant on computers, as can be expected of a movie in which bloodsuckers get their heads chopped off by a young Lincoln seeking revenge for his mother falling victim to marauding creatures of the night, their diurnal activities being in defiance of the established law decreeing they disintegrate when exposed to sunshine.
The boy, schooled in the art of wielding a silver-tipped axe, grows up to become a lawyer, a politician and, most famously, the president who freed the slaves, at least in the northern states, the rest preferring to secede and fight rather than surrender their indentured labourers. As is made clear, there had to be decapitation before there could be emancipation and Lincoln (Benjamin Walker), whose initial motive was vengeance, found himself having to cleave to an even greater cause as the vampires threatened to bleed the entire black population dry.
Lincoln has been depicted in many films that left his reputation and dignity intact but, with the release of this malicious distortion, his true calling is exposed, and no respectable historian or reputable biographer has challenged its authenticity, perhaps because they all have their own axes to grind.
Considering its ridiculous premise, occasionally inept execution, repetition and a climactic train ride to Gettysburg that takes so long audiences will begin to think Lincoln had lost the address, there is a fair amount of entertainment to be found in a movie that seems to exist solely for the opportunity it affords to conclude with a line that makes sitting through it almost worthwhile.
More in this section
- ARTS: The vital economic impact of the arts in the UK
- Portraits of the muso as an artist
- Fixing service delivery woes with paint
- The pitfalls of product placement
- FILM: The Great Gatsby; Bernie; Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor
- Jury out on The Great Gatsby as Cannes festival kicks off
- Licensing bill to be redrafted after avalanche of disapproval
- Saxonwold ANC ‘to act against Atul Gupta’
- Gupta brothers are merely a symptom, not the problem
- Burger King fires up its grill in Cape Town
- Health insurance plan, price regulation soon, says minister
- Courts reel in SARS ‘fishing expeditions’ against taxpayers