Abraham Lincoln, three-quarter-length, standing, ca. 1863. Photographed by Mathew B. Brady
Abraham Lincoln, three-quarter-length, standing, ca. 1863. Photographed by Mathew B. Brady

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For the second time in as many years, a big Hollywood production about the presidency of Abraham Lincoln will be filming in the rebel states. Steven Spielberg‘s long-planned biopic of the 16th president will be shot (zing!) in Richmond and Petersburg, the Virginia Film Office told The Washington Post earlier today.

Spielberg’s Lincoln, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln, was drawn to the Confederate capital for “Virginia’s rich historic legacy, coupled with the remarkable period architecture found in Richmond,” the director said in a statement. The $4.6 million Disney and Dreamworks are getting in tax breaks and incentives probably helped, too. It also makes a trend out of filming movies about the Great Emancipator in the former Confederacy. The Conspirator, Robert Redford‘s lukewarm, “historically accurate” depiction of the trial of Mary Surratt was shot in Savannah, Ga., even though Mrs. Surratt’s D.C. boarding house still stands today. (Yeah, we know it’s a Chinese restaurant.)

So what do Spielberg, Day-Lewis, screenwriter Tony Kushner, and the other cast and crew have to look forward to when they visit Central Virginia this fall?

  • Hardee’s, everywhere you look. The chain has 11 locations within the Richmond city limits alone. We hear Mrs. Lincoln was a big fan of the Frisco Thickburger.
  • Kings Dominion traffic. If Spielberg is planning on shooting on weekends between Labor Day and Halloween, he’d better be prepared for miles of lousy Virginia drivers rubbernecking their way up Interstate 95. Though it might be fun to see Ulysses Grant liquored up while riding the Intimidator 305.
  • Politicians who reminisce about the good old days of openly confronting the federal government, like Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The feisty AG is a big fan of states’ rights and frequently invokes the 10th Amendment in his resistance to all things Washington. Cuccinelli even ordered lapel pins for his office with a version of the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia in which Virtus is wearing a chest protector. This seal was last used between 1861 and 1865. Apparently the Confederate States were also fans of covering up.

Spielberg’s production values are usually top-notch, and Richmond and the Washington of 150 years ago probably aren’t that dissimilar. But this development begs a very serious question: Why is the South playing host to all these movies about its greatest enemy?

Photo by Flickr user Marion Doss using an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license.