Steven Spielberg’s film “Lincoln” begins at the time of the Civil War when President Lincoln was demanding the war’s end. Within the first scene the brutality of the war is shown, mainly against black soldiers. Race was a huge issue at the time the film takes place and that was Lincoln’s largest struggle as he tried to keep the nation as one. The film takes place in the 1860’s and reveals that white privilege was a central belief at the time. However, the way that white people are portrayed in the film suggests that not much has changed in that respect.
The idea of white privilege suggests that white people see themselves as just humans, people without a ...view middle of the document...
The soldier, Private Harold Green is with his comrade and are discussing with the President about the conditions of black soldiers in the war. Private Green tells Lincoln that blacks killed 1,000 rebel soldiers but they still got 3 dollars less pay. Even though they now get the same pay, they have to pay for their uniforms where as white soldiers do not. He tells Lincoln about his hopes for Negros in the future to become lieutenants and captains and predicts that Negros could vote 100 years in the future. The mention of that is ironic because it is now 150 years after the face and there is now a black president in office. The Negro soldiers just want to be treated fairly when fighting among whites. While the two soldiers are talking to Lincoln, two white soldiers come and interrupt them. They do not acknowledge the two men whom were already standing there. They nervously take off their hats and begin talking in a frantic way to the President. The one soldier starts to say that his uncle fought in the war and died at Gettysburg and background music starts to play while he is talking. He then proceeds to quote Lincoln’s famous speech but forgets the ending. When the white soldiers leave, Private Green finishes the speech where it was left off.
The significance of this first scene is to show how black soldiers conducted themselves in the war. They respected President Lincoln but were not afraid to tell him what he could do better for them. The soldiers express their fear of the war being over and having to go back to manual labor. As soldiers they are “free” but after the war white people will still think of them as being inferior. Lincoln observes the interactions of the black and white soldiers but does not say much. The use of background music when the white soldier begins talking shows that there is meant to be an emphasis on what he is saying. The sad tone of the music suggests that his uncle was victorious and should be remembered as a great and noble soldier. As the young man begins to recite the Gettysburg Address, he is preaching a speech about equality. However, he and his fellow white soldiers do not practice equality.
While there is much debate among the congressman about the amendment Lincoln has proposed, he finally demands that it be voted on. “Abolishing slavery by constitutional provisions settles the fate for all coming time. Not only of the millions now in bondage, but of unborn millions to come.” The debate in the House of Representatives rages over the quality of the amendment. Some politicians see it necessary, as it will bring peace. However others argue that they are opposed to slavery but oppose the amendment due to fear of slaves being free, they do not want them to have a vote. The scene where the amendment is shown being voted on...