So I may or may not have gotten a copy of How I Learned to Drive on time to read it for my American Drama class, and I may have had the chance to write about it in my class blog this week. But regardless, I wrote about the awesome film I saw over the Thanksgiving holiday, Lincoln, and how it centered around the theme of the American dream. Lincoln was the story of our sixteenth president and his fight to get the thirteenth amendment passed in the House of Representatives, as he held his family together and stayed sane.
Part of the American dream depicted in Lincoln is the belief of brotherhood among all people of a nation. People come to America believing that their lives will be better, and part of this is having help from other people to better themselves. President Lincoln was an individual who sacrificed very much for his fellow human being, the embodiment of the camaraderie aspect of the American dream. The film followed Lincoln’s second term as president, which was centered around the thirteenth amendment’s passing into the Constitution. This amendment freed all slaves, which was the chief problem causing the civil war that was happening. Lincoln was willing to put his reputation (and ultimately his life) on the line in order to do something that he felt was his responsibility as the leader of our nation. In the end, as we all know, the amendment is passed, and the film shows a joyous scene of the black onlookers in the House crying and cheering and hugging, because at last they are promised what every white man has received in America: the chance to be part of the whole.
Another crucial aspect of the American dream depicted by Daniel Day Lewis’ Lincoln is the concept that there needs to be time in life to focus on the seemingly trivial and simple things. He depicted a man who would walk away from his political peers to tend to his youngest son’s needs. Lincoln had two sons, one in college who wanted to fight in the war, and an eight or so year old one who was such a sweetheart. Lincoln and his youngest had a special bond, and the president was able to reserve time in the middle of a civil war to make his son feel special. Lincoln also had a sense of humor, at least according to the movie, and liked to tell funny stories to his family and peers. They usually had a moral or were inspirational in some way, but they were hilarious nonetheless. For a president to try so hard not to lose grip of the small but important things in life, he shows that the American dream may not be one that needs to be taken so grandly and seriously, but perhaps it is to just have time and means to stop to smell the roses.
The constant hope of the ability to better oneself as both a whole nation and as individuals is a main essence of the American dream. Lincoln personifies this in his fight to pass the thirteenth amendment to our Constitution. Before this, no amendment had been added to the Constitution in over sixty years. However, in a time of need America was able to change itself once more, trying to become a better country than it was yesterday. Similarly, Lincoln himself was depicted as clearly unhappy with his ability to focus on his wife’s needs, and to handle the conflict surrounding him as president. Throughout the movie, he molded into the person he needed and wanted to be. He strengthened his soul and in the end achieved what he knew to be right. He learned the influence his wife really had on his life and realized he always knew that he needed to respect her wishes. People in America are always baited by the belief that they can better themselves, and that they live in a country that is always changing for the best, as well.