Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter Critique
Critique of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) Tanya Willie ENG 225: Introduction to Film Prof. Sarah Snook January 24, 2013 Critique of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) In Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012), the actions that take place began with its use of storytelling, acting, cinematography, editing, sound, style, and directing each part creating the masterpiece. I will reveal how the storytelling is played out, the different types of actors that is being used, how cinematography and editing’s roles take effect, and how the style and directing affect the film.
In Abraham Lincoln: vampire Hunter (2012), Abraham struggled with the loss of his mother. As a young boy he fights when standing up for a friend who was being treated as a slave by stopping him from being beaten with a whip. Unknown at the time, this man was truly not a man, but a vampire. When young Abraham’s father intervenes, it creates a target on his family. It did not help when Abraham’s mother stated “until every man is free, we are all slaves” (Bekmambetov, 2012). The vampire soon after snuck into the Lincoln’s home and killed Abraham’s mother, which all takes place while he watched from his loft above.
His struggle with her loss grew within him into adulthood where he finally began to plot on killing the man who took his mother from him. During his plotting, while drowning his sorrows in a bar, Abraham meets a man. This man eventually saves him when he attempts to kill Barts, the vampire that killed his mother. Henry Sturges agrees to teach Abraham to destroy, not kill, vampires as long as Abraham commits to becoming a full time vampire hunter and let go of his vengeance. Henry tells Abraham that you cannot kill that which is not dead, you must destroy them (Bekmambetov, 2012).
Along Abraham’s journey he destroys many vampires with his ax coated with silver on the blade, yet not getting the privilege to hunt the main vampire he desires. In time he finds the love of a woman, Mary Todd, and his place as a political leader. All this is very much to the dismay of his mentor, Henry, being it is against the code of a vampire hunter who is damned to live a life with no friends, family, or career. These things became prominent after Abraham found out that Henry was a vampire himself. In Abraham’s politics he uses the words of his mother to guide him with his ambitions.
The story is about how a boy becomes a man after the mysterious death of his mother, and how her words, “until every man is free, we are all slaves” lingered in his mind transforming him into a man (Bekmambetov, 2012). The irony of the death of his mother is that he could save his friend, but could not save his mother, leaving Abraham to struggle with the conflicting anger he contained from her being taken away so soon in his life. It takes nine years for him to realize his anger was all due to him feeling that he failed to save her. Also he is ironically trained to destroy vampires by Henry who he later learns is also a vampire.
This film used a variety of actors in order to create this masterful collection of scenes. Not only did they speak the script, but had to become the character so the audience would believe what they saw. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) starred Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln, an impersonator actor portraying a secret vampire hunter who later becomes the President of the United States. Dominic Cooper was the wild card actor, starring as Henry Sturges, Abraham’s mentor and a vampire himself. Mary Elizabeth Winstead starred as Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham’s wife.
Anthony Mackie starring as Will Johnson was his close, childhood friend. Rufus Sewell starred as Adam, the father of all the American vampires. Last of all Marton Csokas starred as the one who started it all Jack Barts, the vampire who killed Abraham’s mother. Anthony, Mary, Rufus, and Marton were in the background simply character actors used as minor roles set aside from Benjamin Walker who played the leading role, impersonating a well-known historic figure making him an impersonator actor (Goodykoontz, & Jacobs, 2011, Sec. 3. 4; para. 1). Dominic was also a leading actor.
Dominic is a wild card as he had to play a man one moment and a vampire the next. The actors helped to convey the story’s meaning by using the interpretation of their characters. I find the most difficult roles to play as Will Johnson and Abraham Lincoln. Anthony has to play a boy fighting to prove he was born free, but after the long battle African American’s had to fight for freedom I am not sure I could do as good a job as he did. Benjamin Walker has the difficult task of making the viewers see him as a well know historical figure. Each actor pulled through and convinced me that they were their character, not just playing the role.
Cinematography takes the actors, putting them in specific pictures to make how the film looks using different lighting, camera angles, color types, distance and framing to bring things together creating a specific look and feel. Caleb Deschanel begins the film with a wide shot of a free nation, present time in Lincoln’s time as President, in Washington, D. C. The shot was clear and bright just how Caleb wanted the viewers to see it. This bright scene is portraying the free nation, victorious after a long struggle of dark times. Gradually the scene takes us back to the past as Lincoln begins narrating him life.
His story begins with a dark and gloomy time shown by the cinematographer’s use of low-level lighting. The tint of the film changes from blues to yellows depending on the mood of the scene. The blue tints were for a sad and dreary time while the yellow tint was meant for an eerie feeling. Caleb uses different camera angles throughout the film. “ When the camera looks down on a character, we may be intended to view that character as “below” us or inferior to another character in the film, in a submissive position, or simply from an objective distance” (Goodykoontz, & Jacobs, 2011, sec. . 6; para. 2). One example is when Abraham is looking down at Barts after his first attempt to kill him. At times we are able to see what the character sees; this suggests the use of a subjective camera. The camera changes from showing the whole scene, to close-ups, the viewing things through Abraham’s eyes. All these things are put into motion by Caleb Deschanel, the cinematographer, who pictures the film scene by scene, cut by cut, and frame by frame in order to enhance how we, the viewers, feel about what we have seen.
In this film it is mostly fear, anger, and victory that are being felt! The editor arranges the shots and scenes into acts, and uses different transitions to put them together. William Hay, the editor, chose each shot, putting them into order to achieve the incongruous editing. Even as this story begins with a present day time for Abraham Lincoln, he is narrating it from his journal venturing into his past, putting the film in a non-linear order. Direct cuts are used in this film to join shots within a scene. This type of cut is the simplest and often taken for granted.
If I were not in Introduction to film learning about these details I would have never noticed this happening. According to figure 5. 1 Editing Transitions of out text, a direct cut is when “one shot instantaneously replaces another on the screen” (Goodykoontz, & Jacobs, 2011, Sec. 5. 3; fig. 5. 1). William uses single frames with direct cuts joining them to establish a more intense scene for action shots. This gives them the opportunity to use different camera angles to stimulate the viewer, making the scene one that makes your heart race. Other shots are longer in order to create a constant feel.
Editing is used to imply a battle is taking place. In the scene, in the dark this is used when you hear a huge battle taking place but see only darkness, but when the light comes back on Abraham and Henry are beaten and bloody implying an event took place that had not actually happened. The scene is enhanced by the sound effects creating a stronger sense that it is actually taking place. The manner in which William edits this film helps to create a belief in the actions taking place. Films in the year 2012 are dependent on the sounds so we can understand what is happening.
In Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) dialogue, sound effects, and music play an important role in the film. Throughout this film I found equal amounts of dialogue, sound effects, and music balancing things so evenly that without any part the film would not be as successful. Most of the dialogue is of Abraham narrating the events in his journal, but as this takes place it also shows actual conversations between the characters. This helps keep the audience’s attention by keeping it interesting. Sound effects are used to emphasize the battles taking place as well as encourage more than sense to be used while watching the film.
For example, I not only saw Abraham’s ax swinging, but I could hear the swoosh sound as it flew through the air. Music done by Henry Jackman also plays its part by invoking an emotional response since it speeds up in action scenes and slows down to create a more morbid mood. Without the sounds of the dialogue, sound effects, and music within this film it would lose the interest of the audience quickly. Timur Bekmambetov is the director/ producer for this film and often works with action films. He has a history of working with war scenes as well as fantasy. He makes his view of this film evident through his work.
His view, in my opinion, is that the film is about Abraham Lincoln having a secret identity as being a vampire hunter with the underlying meaning being about his fight for freedom. Timur shows how young Abraham fights for young Will’s freedom, his own freedom from anger and grief, freedom from the fear of vampires, and freedom for a nation of slavery. He does this by the many battles Abraham physically fights. It begins when he fights to help his friend, young Will, from being beat with a whip, moving on to his fight within himself in regards to him allowing his mother to die, and internal battle.
It then shows his fight for survival on to his fight for freeing the nation from vampires. Last of all Abraham fights for the freedom of the slaves, standing strong by the words of his mother, “until every man is free, we are all slaves” (Bekmambetov, 2012). Timur is able to create these battles with his experience in films dealing with action and fantasy. Tim Bekmambetov is experienced in revealing his point of view within the film, making it known to the audience. This action, fantasy, horror film sends the viewer spiraling back into the past to a time when slavery was acceptable.
I felt that since the director and producers, Timur Bekmambetov, Tim Burton, and Jim Lemley did such a great job setting the scene that I could believe this was a true reality for Abraham Lincoln. It touches the controversial subjects of slavery and war crossed with the belief in the supernatural. The film has such a realistic feel to hit, I find myself strangely wondering if Abraham actually fought against vampires, making me wonder, in a world full of the unknown, if vampires could have been part of this reality in the past.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) is classified as a horror film with the subgenres being in History and Vampire. It gave a thrilling experience with the action scenes where vampires are being fought to keep them from taking over. It is a horror film due to the fear that vampires create. History is a subgenre because the film reflects a time that actually occurred in the pant, and the other subgenre is Vampire for obvious reasons. The film had my interest as soon as I saw the word “Vampire”; others may have focused on the history. It is funny that the film was more affected by society than it was on society.
The violent manner used in the killings and the lack of censoring the scenes show how our society has advanced from the past when these scenes were only left up to the viewer’s imagination. Presently I pay no attention to this; but older viewers like my parents say it would never be accepted in the past. So far I found that the storytelling was clear and exciting, the acting was precise, and Caleb’s cinematography was on point. The editing by William and his direct cut transitions gave way to an exciting film set aside only by the sounds of dialogue, sound effects, and music by Henry Jackman.
Overall the style and directing allowed for a film that was impacted more by society than it was on society. All these things came together to create a film full of action, fantasy and horror. References Bekmambetov, T. (Director/Producer). (2012). Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. [Motion Picture]. United States: 20th Century Fox. Goodykoontz, B. , & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). Film: From Watching to Seeing. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Retrieved from https://content. ashford. edu/AUENG225. 11. 2