Eye on the Oscars: The Director

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Spielberg is fascinated by Abraham Lincoln’s history, but the last thing he wanted in “Lincoln” was to direct a history lesson. “There’s education in any new information or old information presented in a new way,” Spielberg says, “but there’s a big difference between the didactic and the entertaining, and I wanted to fall somewhere in between.”

Consequently, guiding “Lincoln” became something of a tightrope walk for the director, to humanize an icon while remaining faithful to history — a challenge unlike those in his previous historical dramas such as “Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan” or “Munich.”

“We had to closely follow the record of events leading up to the vote on abolishing slavery in the House of Representatives,” Spielberg says. “At the same time, we wanted to achieve a balance between getting to know Abraham Lincoln (and not) simply posing for my camera the way other Lincoln stories have deified him, so that there’s no way to get him off his marble pedestal.”

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