Four score and seven vampires

With the opening this summer of the movie “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” I expect, as a Lincoln historian and portrayer, to be asked if he really was one. He wasn’t. Lincoln was many things, including the greatest president of our country, but my years of research have never revealed that he ever hunted four score and seven blood-sucking people with fangs – not even one.

Now, you may say that that goes without saying – who would ever believe that he did hunt descendants of Count Dracula? But considering that many young people will be exposed to more of Lincoln in this movie than in any classroom, it’s worth saying just so the record is clear.

Lincoln was not a vampire hunter! Unfortunately history, to many over the years, is what they have seen and think they have learned in movies and other works of fiction.

The most egregious example of fiction based movie “history” was “JFK.” It was allegedly the true story of the assassination of President Kennedy. It put forth various conspiracy rumors as facts, and made virtual history dunces of those who now believe that the actual assassin did not kill the president, or if he did, had not acted alone. I understand that a new movie is in the works based on the facts in this case that may some day undo the harm done by “JFK.”

Another movie, “The Conspirator,” which focused on Mary Surratt who was hanged for her part in the assassination of Lincoln, got the time period right but played too loosely with facts in presenting a case that she was mistreated and may have been completely innocent. It did not find an audience so its damage was limited.

However, the book “Killing Lincoln” by TV talker Bill O’Reilly and a co-author has been on the best-seller list for months even though all people who know anything about the assassination of Lincoln have found it to be filled with errors large and small.

O’Reilly’s book is an insult to history and to its readers who deserve far more respect than this slap/dash, cut and paste retelling of one of our country’s most significant tragic events. While the book doesn’t doubt that John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln, it does hint at possible conspiracies long since investigated and proven to be incorrect.

I’m not sure if I’ll see “Lincoln: The Vampire Hunter.” If I do, it will be for laughs. I think Lincoln, too, might have wanted to see it for humorous reasons too. No one liked a good joke more than he did.

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Volume 4, Issue 13, Posted 9:54 AM, 06.26.2012