Steven Speilberg’s ‘Lincoln’: coming soon to a school near you

Movie Talk

Few recent movies have examined the minutia of a key moment in American history as closely as Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” and the filmmaker and his producers are eager to let educators take advantage of their efforts.

Participant Media, the production company who helped bring “Lincoln” to theaters, has announced a “social action campaign” they call “Stand Tall: Live Like Lincoln.” The campaign will use Spielberg’s film as part of an educational outreach program that will focus on history and encourage youngsters to learn from the sixteenth president’s example.

With this in mind, Participant Media will be hosting screenings for schools and will be giving a free copy of “Lincoln” on DVD to every Middle School and High School in America.

In a press release, Spielberg said, “As more and more people began to see the film, we received letters from teachers asking if it could be available in their classrooms. We realized that the educational value that ‘Lincoln’ could have was not only for the adult audiences -- who have studied his life in history book -- but for the young students in the classroom as well.”

In addition to the free DVDs, which will be shipped to schools after “Lincoln” is released on home video on March 26, there will be special screenings of the film for students in eight American cities named Lincoln on February 12. In March, Participant Media also be presenting fifteen schools named after the late president with upgraded video equipment, which can be used for showings of the film.

“Lincoln” has been nominated for twelve Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Daniel Day Lewis’s performance in the title role. The film has been almost universally acclaimed for its portrait of Lincoln’s public and private sides as he struggled to outlaw slavery by passing the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and bring an end to the Civil War. However, there has been some criticism of historical inaccuracies in the movie, including changing the names certain congressmen who voted against the 13th Amendment, and depicting two Connecticut legislators voting against abolishing slavery, which Connecticut representative Joe Courtney has pointed out is not correct. (Screenwriter Tony Kushner has insisted the intent was not to insult Connecticut, but to emphasize how close the vote was.) It remains to be seen if the educational materials included with “Lincoln” as it is distributed to schools will reflect the film’s occasional divergence from historical fact.

The “Stand Tall: Live Like Lincoln” program is being funded by Participant Media, DreamWorks Pictures, and Fox/Newscorp. Disney In-Home and Disney Educational Productions will distribute the educational edition of the DVD.