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lincoln

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks


    White House 1865

    President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] alone in his office, which is almost overtaken by battlefield maps of the ongoing Civil War...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks


    White House 1865

    President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] meets with his cabinet, determined to pass the 13th Amendment...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks


    White House 1865

    Postmaster General Montgomery Blair [Byron Jennings], Lincoln’s secretary John Hay [Joseph Cross], Francis Preston Blair [Hal Holbrook], President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis], Secretary of State William Seward [David Strathairn], Lincoln’s secretary John Nicolay [Jeremy Strong] and Representative James Ashley [David Costabile] in a strategy meeting...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks


    White House 1865

    Francis Preston Blair [Hal Holbrook] tells President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] he must seek a negotiated peace to end the war quickly...

    Photo © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks


    White House 1865

    President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] confers with his Secretary of State, William Seward [David Strathairn], who is also his closest friend...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks


    White House 1865

    Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] and Seward [David Strathairn] discuss the seemingly impossible battle to get the 13th Amendment passed and the war concluded...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks


    White House 1865

    President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] encourages Representative James Ashley [David Costabile] and Secretary of State William Seward [David Strathairn] to find votes sufficient to pass the 13th Amendment...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks


    White House 1865

    President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] tells his wife Mary Todd Lincoln [Sally Field] about the haunting dreams he's been having...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks


    White House 1865

    Mary Todd Lincoln [Sally Field] studies her husband’s reflection as he contemplates how to bring about the end of the Civil War...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks


    White House 1865

    The president’s wife [Sally Field] beseaches her husband [Daniel Day-Lewis] to expedite the end of the war...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks


    White House 1865

    First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln [Sally Field] is still in bereavement over the death of her young son...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks


    White House 1865

    President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis], his valet William Slade [Stephen McKinley Henderson] and two sons Robert Todd Lincoln [Joseph Gordon-Levitt] and Thomas \"Tad\" Lincoln [Gulliver McGrath], prepare to greet guests at a White House reception...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks


    White House 1865

    President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] tries to discourage his oldest son Robert Todd Lincoln [Joseph Gordon-Levitt] from going to war...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    White House 1865

    President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] and his youngest son Thomas \"Tad\" Lincoln [Gulliver McGrath]...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.


  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    White House 1865

    President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] and his youngest son Tad Lincoln [Gulliver McGrath] – full length photograph…

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    White House 1865

    Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] in his favorite rocker, reading to Tad [Gulliver McGrath]...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.


  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    White House 1865

    President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] ponders as Tad [Gulliver McGrath] reads by window light on a wintry day…

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.



  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    White House 1865

    President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] with Tad [Gulliver McGrath], whose chair was often pulled close to his father’s tall desk – full photo of previous detail...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    Civil War battlefield 1865

    President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] looks across a battlefield in the aftermath of a terrible siege...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    Civil War battlefield 1865

    President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] crosses yet another horrofic site of death and carnage...

    Photo © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.



  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    Porch, General Grant’s headquarters, Civil War 1865

    President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis], desperately hoping to bring a proper end to the war, watches soldiers file past…the simplest chair his seat of power…

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    War Department telegraph room 1865

    Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton [Bruce McGill] shows President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] and Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles [Grainger Hines] an important war communication...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    War Department telegraph room 1865

    Telegraph operators David Homer Bates [Drew Sease] and Samuel Beckwith [Adam Driver] wait to transcribe the president's message regarding Jefferson Davis’ Confederate Peace Commission...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    White House kitchen 1865

    President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] works out voting strategy for the 13th Amendment with Radical Republican Representative Thaddeus Stevens [Tommy Lee Jones] in the only private place available…

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.


  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    Capitol building, House chambers 1865

    Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania [Tommy Lee Jones] argues for the 13th Amendment …

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.


  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    White House reception 1865

    President Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] awaits at the head of the receiving line, while First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln [Sally Field], with her sons and the president’s valet as a protecting flank, greets high-ranking legislators, Senator Bluff Wade [Wayne Duvall], Representative Thaddeus Stevens [Tommy Lee Jones], Senator Charles Sumner [John Hutton] and Representative James Ashley [David Costabile]...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    White House reception 1865

    First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln [Sally Field] and her youngest son Thomas \"Tad\" Lincoln [Gulliver McGrath] prepare to greet guests…

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.


  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    White House reception 1865

    First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln [Sally Field] has words for Representative Thaddeus Stevens [Tommy Lee Jones], who as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is critical of the First Lady’s household accounts…

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.


  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    Capitol building, House chambers 1865

    Ardent abolitionist Representative Thaddeus Stevens, Republican of Pennsylvania [Tommy Lee Jones] participates in the vote to pass the anti-slavery 13th Amendment…

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.


  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    Undisclosed hotel 1865

    Secretary of State William Seward [David Strathairn] secretly meets with The Gang of Three…Lobbyists and vote-getters Richard Schell
    [Tim Blake Nelson], Robert Latham [John Hawkes], W.N. Bilbo [James Spader]...

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.


  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    Ford’s Theater 1865

    First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln [Sally Field] and her modiste & confidante Elizabeth Keckley [Gloria Reuben]…

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    Ford’s Theater 1865

    The president [Daniel Day-Lewis], his wife [Sally Field] and her friend [Gloria Reuben] attend the theater, just after the passage of the 13th amendment and the halt of the Civil War…

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.

  • set decorator
    Jim Erickson SDSA

    production designer
    Rick Carter


    Dreamworks

    White House 1865

    President Abraham Lincoln [Daniel Day-Lewis] leaves the White House on that fateful night…

    Photo by David James © 2012 Dreamworks & Twentieth Century Fox.. All Rights Reserved.


In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change,
President Abraham Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery. In his nation’s darkest hour, when the times demand the very best of people, he reaches from within himself for something powerful and everlasting...”
Writer Tony Kushner 

With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, Lincoln’s choices during this critical moment changed the fate of generations to come. Bearing that in mind, the choices Director Steven Spielberg made to bring about his depiction of the man and his times in the film LINCOLN were critical to an accurate and soulful re-creation. He once again collaborated with Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski and Production Designer Rick Carter, who brought in Set Decorator Jim Erickson SDSA and his team for an intimate, realistic and in-depth representation…a leap back in time, to 1865.

“We focused only on the last four months of Lincoln’s life,” says Director Steven Spielberg, “because we wanted to show Lincoln accomplishing something great, something monumental…and that was abolishing slavery and ending the Civil War. However, we also wanted to show that he was a man, not a monument. We thought that our best hope of understanding and bringing justice to this immensely complicated person, was to depict him beginning, then conducting, then concluding a very, very complex action, which was the fight to pass the 13th Amendment on the floor of the House of Representatives.”

“We hoped to locate an event that hadn’t previously been dramatized which had very significant, legitimately very, very high stakes,” he continues. “And we also wanted to be able to include Lincoln’s family dynamic, but only at the moment when they actually collided with the public events that this whole story is about. He was a statesman, a military leader, but also a father, a husband and a man who was always, continuously looking deep inside himself.”

Production Designer Rick Carter points out, “While it is a big story, it’s being told intimately…we’re not standing back and showing you big vistas of things that Lincoln might not have seen. It’s  very much here’s his world…here’s the White House, there’s the entrance parlor, there’s his office, there’s his living quarters, here’s the Congress…the streets he walked through….a lot of parlors…the War office…many places he would be. The richness of that world had to be finely detailed. Jim and his set decorating team and I went to extraordinary lengths to help make every single moment as real as possible…and at the same time, a bit expressionistic.”

“That level of detail, whether it be a battle map or a little note, or pictures that are on the walls, or the wallpaper…it wasn’t that it was painstaking, it was more, ‘Let’s get that part of it exactly right. Let’s do a service to the actors first and foremost, and for the storytellers, but also craft imagery that will live on when people want to know what it was like to be in Lincoln’s White House.’”

The East Room was shot in the Virginia Governor’s mansion, but Set Decorator Jim Erickson SDSA shares, “We built the second floor of the White House… Mary Todd Lincoln’s 1865 White House. It was pretty fabulous. And some really interesting doors opened…”

“One door lead to another…starting in Richmond…I was looking for vintage wallpaper, and knew that going to the major wallpaper companies to design and print historic wallpapers would be prohibitively expensive, especially in the amount we would need. However…there is a gentleman who had redone the Lincoln Bedroom working with Laura Bush during the Bush administration. He had garnered considerable research on the carpets and other aspects of the room. Through him, I had the carpet woven as close as we could get to the original carpet in the 1860s Lincoln room…it is now called the ‘Lincoln Bedroom’ but at that time, it was his office.”

“We discussed the wallpaper, and he suggested I check with ‘this little company in Richmond’. Well, this company does the most incredible wallpaper! They hand silk-screen their wallpaper onto vintage papers, silks, linens…whatever is the most accurate restoration or match. Thus, all the wallpaper on the LINCOLN sets are hand silk-screened and were magnificent.

“They were so nice, this little company,” Erickson recalls. “There were four people working in there, and they were busy all the time. They do restoration…all the museums come to them, particularly when restoring a historical house, because you can bring them a fragment of wallpaper and they can reproduce it. We’d find little scraps, and from those work up the entire design. Of course, they have a large library of designs, just amazing stuff. I couldn’t believe it…it was like a dream come true.”

 “Computer-printed wallpapers can’t do proper metallics…something to do with gold ink not going through the jets correctly,” he explains. “But you can silk-screen a range of gold and silver metallics AND glazes which will produce wallpapers that have incredible patina. One paper we did had as many as 15 screens per image, with glazing and non-glazing…so you have this wonderful, soft paper that looks…actually, it IS…original paper stock. As I said, it was just magnificent. It was so exciting.”

“Things like that opened up. I found superb vintage gas chandeliers…Cornelius gas chandeliers…there is a company in Massachusetts that collects them. So I was able to do remarkable and accurate chandeliers all through the house.”

“I wanted everybody to feel that there was a real sense of authenticity on the set,” Speilberg relates, “where the only real imposition from our times were the camera and monitors. That would be the only imposition on the time period…everything else was part of Lincoln’s reality.”

The sets were so true, that it enabled the actors to stay within character, and the crew to become immersed in the time and story as well. Carter remembers, “When Daniel Day-Lewis arrived to begin filming, he was no longer Daniel Day-Lewis. He was President Lincoln. He actually had so absorbed that character to the point that now everything that came forth from him from that point on remained Abraham Lincoln….It was as though Steven Spielberg was invited with his crew to time-travel back to 1865 and the president agreed to take a week to re-enact the things he actually did to create the history of the passage of the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery and to end the Civil War. That was what we were really doing, and that’s the level of respect that everyone gave.” 

Actress Sally Field, who plays Mary Todd Lincoln, notes the authenticity of every facet of the film’s design and decoration, “I’ve never done a film with such amazing production detail. It made total sense to stay within that world, and it was the most divine way to work.”

“It’s not a type of storytelling that we’ve seen that much of recently,” Carter adds. “It’s a spectacle, but it’s a spectacle that is vertical, it goes deep rather than out.”

“I’ve always believed that trying to make sense of what happened in the past helps to shape the present,” Spielberg imparts. “History is always relevant in the sense that understanding how we got to where we are will help us figure out where we will go from here…”

“Lincoln certainly guided this country through its worse crisis in its entire history. More than any other single person, he helped the United States to survive…in doing this, he helped the idea of democracy as a viable political system to survive…”

“He advocated for things we hold dearer now than ever. He stood up for the idea that democracy’s survival requires fairness, compassion, respect and tolerance…and sometimes a good sense of humor. That is the soul of LINCOLN.”

 

 

 


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