- While waiting for the news whether or not the 13th amendment has passed Lincoln stands in his dim office—with backlight raying in from curtained window. The scene brings to mind the interior of Dorothy’s house just after it’s fallen from the tornado into Munchkinland. Despite many TV broadcasts in black and white, the Kansas scenes in WOO were actually filmed in muted sepias… a silent, dusty, ‘air of grayness’. Here Steven implies the hopelessness of the president’s crusade in the political climate of his era. Perhaps that silhouette also foreshadows his demise. For sepia, see Schindler’s List. For air of grayness, see War Horse, E.T., Joe vs the Volcano, Twister, Twilight Zone the Movie, Kick the Can episode.
- Spielberg repeats this WOO scene of quiet before chaos in many films; as a tension-builder it’s always effective. See E.T., the Extraterrestrial, Jaws, Saving Private Ryan, Minority Report, War of the Worlds, Twilight Zone the Movie, Kick the Can Episode.
- Then the bells ring all over Washington; “Ding dong the witch is dead!” In this case of course the oppression that has been conquered is not that of the Wicked Witch of the East, but of slavery. See War Horse.
- The character ‘Bilbo’ is a mischievous, somewhat shady but good-hearted fellow, serving a righteous cause. He mimics with his curled mustache, apple cheeks, costume (hat, tie etc.) good old Professor Marvel (AKA: the Wizard of Oz & his alter-egos in Emerald City). He is a smooth operator, a charlatan who nevertheless sees that justice, or at least the greater good is carried out— even if he accomplishes that by somewhat questionable means. Whatever you think of his methods, the heroes might not have achieved their goals without the aid of his chicanery. See Empire of the Sun, The Color Purple, Munich, Saving Private Ryan, A.I., Always, Goonies, Jaws, Catch Me if You Can, Schindler’s List for more lovable tricksters.
- During the play, Todd watches—in a different theater than his doomed father attends— a pink cloud like the one Oz uses in the Great Hall explode like smoke bomb. Directly afterward a man comes ‘from behind the curtain’ to blow away all magical pretense and to announce a most horrible truth “The president has been shot.” There is no such thing as magic. Only humbug. Only the hideous realization of reality.
- When Lincoln dies, we see his head ‘speechifying’ within a halo of candle flame as Oz’s head does in the Great Hall. See A.I., Artificial Intelligence.