'Lincoln' could have impact on local tourism

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By Linda Ireland

 A movie about a Hodgenville native is being called “The Most Honored Film of the Year.”

“Lincoln,” based on the book “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin deals with President Abraham Lincoln’s final months in office as he was seeking ways to end the Civil War.

Since its November release, it has been nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Awards and 12 Academy Awards including best picture.

The 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be shown Jan. 27 on TNT and TBS. The Academy Awards presentation is scheduled for Feb. 24 on ABC. 

Sunday night, former President Bill Clinton introduced “Lincoln” at the Golden Globes. He described Lincoln’s push to pass the 13th Amendment ending slavery: “Winning it required the president to make a lot of unsavory deals that had nothing to do with the big issue.

“ I wouldn’t know anything about that,” he added, drawing laughter.

“President Lincoln’s struggle to abolish slavery reminds us that enduring progress is forged in a cauldron of both principle and compromise,” Clinton continued. “This brilliant film shows us how he did it, and gives us hope that we can do it again.”

“Lincoln” lost to “Argo” for Best Picture – Drama. However, Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor in a Drama for the lead role in “Lincoln.”

Director Steven Spielberg began the film project in 2002 with the intent to complete it by the Lincoln Bicentennial in 2008. Cast changes and other projects delayed the filming. Day–Lewis replaced Liam Neeson in the title role.

Despite the attention the film has received from Hollywood, it’s unclear what kind of attention LaRue County – the birthplace of Lincoln – will receive in its wake.

Iris LaRue, director of The Lincoln Museum, said visitation at the museum showed a “slight increase over the Christmas/New Year holiday” over last year.

“The really interesting thing is all the emails and phone calls we’ve had from people who want to ask questions. (I guess things the movie spurred them to think about). And we are seeing some earlier bookings for bus tours than usual.”

LaRue said the 12 Oscar Academy Award nominations “have indeed put Lincoln back at the top – just where he belongs.”

She was in a work session last week with representatives from the Kentucky Travel and Tourism Board. By the end of the day, “they were refreshing their buttons for Mr. Lincoln – back to prominence on their website and social media.”

William Justice, superintendent at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park, said visitation at the Park in 2012 was up by 4 percent. About 170,000 people visited – up from 163,000 in 2011.

Justice said the Park received a lot of attention before “Lincoln” was released including questions about “Team of Rivals” and the 13th Amendment.

“Visitors ask about the movie all the time,” he said. “But it’s hard to draw a direct correlation between (the movie and visitation).”

“It’s good to see a movie of that caliber about Lincoln,” he added. “It was a very well-researched and put together. He is a pivotal figure in American history and doesn’t always get his due.”