Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis and Flat Feet?
One thing I love even more than a big, over-the-top musical production, is a historical piece that’s steeped in our own national folklore.
I’m talking, of course, about Lincoln. I’ve always been fascinated by the President, but in addition to what you’ll see portrayed in the movie; I’m fascinated by the mystery that surrounded his physical makeup.
The man clearly stood out and as the first President to be photographed heavily, we have lots of images to study.
His strong brow line, angular face, height combined with long limbs and fingers, sunken-in chest, and curious way of walking on his extremely flat feet…one thing comes to mind. Marfan syndrome. I’ve always been curious about the syndrome since I first heard about it years ago. A professor discussed it in History class and since it was connected with Lincoln, it held this mysterious awe for me.
Marfan syndrome, a connective tissue disorder, was discovered in 1896 and symptoms include a wide variety of skeletal and body system indicators, oftentimes including a heart condition. Many of these indicators were present in Lincoln, but the one I’m most interested in, obviously, is the flat feet.
Flat feet, or Pes planus, is when the “arch of the foot collapses, with the entire sole of the foot coming into complete or near-complete contact with the ground.”
These flat feet, in combination with Lincoln’s extremely long leg limbs, amounted to a sometimes awkward gait.
I would have loved to fit him with a pair of custom orthotics! I really think I could have made that melancholy man less brooding if his feet were properly positioned.
Steven Spielberg spoke to TIME about the difficulties of having Daniel Day-Lewis capture the President’s plodding, flat-footed walk. He said if you didn’t get it just right, he’d look like “an animatronic character at Epcot Center.” The two-time, Oscar-winning actor, in his typical fashion, didn’t break character on set. When he was there, he WAS Lincoln. He was always in his costume, spoke in his voice and tenor, walked his plodding, deliberate fashion, and didn’t chat with other actors around the snack table.
The Lincoln/Marfan syndrome connection has since been mostly debunked by several scientific studies. Although his physical makeup played a strong case, it has largely been ruled out. I know this, but I still will be unconsciously watching for signs of it in Daniel Day-Lewis’ flat-footed performance as he makes his case for yet another Oscar. Now that I’ve planted the seed, you will be too.
One thing we know for sure is that Lincoln DID see and had high regard for his foot doctor. He wrote, “Dr. Zacharie has operated on my feet with great success, and considerable addition to my comfort,” in 1862, during the Civil War.
If you are suffering from pain associated with flat feet and are interested in custom orthotics, a visit to the office for a gait evaluation and orthotic casting is painless! These aren’t your grandma’s orthotics either! You can wear them in your dress shoes, high heels, AND running shoes.
Call us at 859-264-1141 for an evaluation and we’ll talk about whether custom orthotics are a good fit for you.