I have had the pleasure to watch the movie Lincoln now twice, recently just yesterday with my family. This is actually the first time both my parents, my brother, and I all attended the same film since Jurassic Park. If you haven’t seen it, the movie is fantastic! I have been trying to see if the script is online anywhere, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, at least not yet. I suspect a fan will make the script once it comes out on DVD or the author, Tony Kushner, may have it released for some reason. We’ll see.
But there was something interesting that caught my ears the second time around, and apparently my brother caught it as well. In the scene when we first meet Abraham Lincoln’s oldest son, Robert, the first family member he is greeted by is Tad Lincoln, the youngest son, riding in a wagon through the White House pulled by a goat. (Apparently Tab ran fairly rampant through the White House turning his time there.) Moments into their conversation, which gets interrupted after maybe 30 seconds, you can hear Tad talking about finches and how their beaks changed from generation to generation. And then I realized that Darwin’s theory of evolution made it into the movie!
Darwin’s Origin of Species was published about two years before the start of the Civil War. From what I gather, botanist Asa Gray helped get the book published in American in 1860, so it’s not impossible that the theory could have become well-known at the time of the movie’s setting (January 1865).
But why have this mentioned at all in a movie about slavery? Well, there is an interesting bit of trivia for history-buffs: Lincoln and Darwin have the same birthday. February 12th, 1809. From a story-telling point of view, I cannot think of any other reason to include this, other than perhaps Tad was eclectic in his interests.
So, if you haven’t made an excuse to go see this movie, I just gave you one. Oh, and another good one is Daniel Day-Lewis. Need I say more?