Honest Abe goes Hollywood

30 Mar

If you have a penchant for pop culture, like I do, then I’m sure you’ve heard that the Hunger Games had the third largest opening of any film in history.  It’s another example of a beloved book making a splash on the big screen.  One of this year’s other big hits at theaters, The Help, was also first an acclaimed book from author Kathryn Stockett. That adaptation even yielded an Academy Award for supporting actress Octavia Spencer, who brought Stockett’s Minny Jackson to life. The film also garnered several nominations and awards at various film festivals and awards presentations.  The horizon is filled with film adaptations of classic literature and more recently-released books.

June will bring the big screen version of Seth Grahme-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. The highly-anticipated film based on the New York Times Bestseller offers the premise, what if the Civil War was fought not only over slavery, but to block the vampires’ access to human trade? It is yet another foray into film for Lincoln Memorial University’s namesake and the inspiration for the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum’s newest exhibit: Lincoln at the Movies.

The exhibit, which opens Friday, was developed by ALLM Curator Steven Wilson and takes a look at the 16th President and his influence, representation and relationship to the motion pictures. There are few more recognizable figures in history than the president known as “Honest Abe.” The story of his life and death has been told and retold on page, on stage and on the silver screen.

Audiences have flocked to see serious portrayals of Abe’s story from the 1912 blockbuster Birth of a Nation to the 1940s Abe Lincoln in Illinois, to 2011’s examination of his assassination in the movie Conspirator. Audiences have also seen his character portrayed in a more comedic light by actors and non-actors including pro wrestler Hulk Hogan and comedian Johnny Carson. In the movies, Lincoln has traveled through time, beamed aboard starships, unintentionally insulted his long-suffering wife, and even wrestled George Washington. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter will add another entry to that list of odd things he’s done on film that we’re quite sure Abraham Lincoln never really did.

Just as we're fairly certain Honest Abe never actually hunted vampires, we're he never addressed the students of San Dimas High.

Abraham Lincoln at the Movies uses photographs, artifacts, original posters and media to provide a means for today’s audience to see the constant and fascinating journey of Lincoln through American culture. The exhibit will also shine a light on LMU’s minor role in Lincoln’s life on film. In 1940, LMU was the site of the southern premiere of Abe Lincoln in Illinois. The film’s star Raymond Massey was on hand for the premiere and was also awarded a Lincoln Diploma of Honor for his performance in the motion picture and his role on stage.

The exhibit will be on display through February 12, 2013. The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum is located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn. Admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $3.50 for senior citizens and $3 for children under 12. Housing one of the top five Lincoln and Civil War private collections in the world, the Museum is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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