Despite the fact that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter makes some bold claims about the “real” life of the 16th U.S. president, author and screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith took painstaking effort to make sure the film was as historically accurate as possible.
Well, except for the parts with the fangs.
“In the opening of the movie, there’s a quote that says ‘History prefers legends to men,’” Grahame-Smith explained to Metro. “That’s the truth: We’ve made Lincoln a legend, and we forgot that he was also a man. This film deals much more with the man of Lincoln than the myth or the legend.”
While the movie’s title Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is certainly absurd, the cast and crew of the film insist that the jokes end there. Instead of turning the project into a spoof of U.S. history, the film emphasizes the flaws that made Lincoln such a great humanitarian.
Producer Tim Burton and director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) use the backdrop of the Civil War to weave an action-filled tale about how one poor individual with a life full of tragedy could become one of America’s most respected men.
Bekmambetov explained foremost this movie is about the boy who would become Lincoln and the personal motivations that led him to change the course of history. In a way, the director points out, it’s not just a historically based film — it’s a superhero movie.
“It’s not about vampires,” Bekmambetov said. “This is the most important part: When you see a young boy, and suddenly he becomes Lincoln and emotionally you understand it.”
“It’s the most powerful special effect of the movie,” he added.
“What was the cool thing about having a Russian director make this movie was he didn’t bring in any of that sort of emotional baggage to it,” Grahame-Smith said. “He was able to approach Lincoln as a man before a myth.”
Keeping with being as accurate as possible, the team decided to shoot the film in 3D because of actual 3D photos from the Civil War era they had uncovered from their research. Bekmambetov saw it as a way to bring people in the middle of all the action.
“Based on those photographs, it just seems completely obvious and the right tool for this particular production. It brings you there. And, again it was very clear from these photographs it was exactly the way to go,” Burton explained.
But, it’s hard to deny that Lincoln’s axe-wielding skills and ability to slice off people’s heads with one blow is what drew people’s attention in the first place. It’s the element of the fantastical that changes this regular history lesson into something a bit more interesting.
“Nobody has made this kind of movie before,” Bekmambetov claimed. “There’s no way the audience can say, ‘No, I saw this many times.’ No, we don’t have this problem.”