There were strong words from director Steven Spielberg recently as, just days after his biopic of 16th American President Abraham Lincoln hit the cinemas, he paid an emotional tribute to the man on the 149th anniversary of his famous address at Gettysburg.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the Lincoln film maker was speaking at an event specifically held to commemorate the speech. “The murder of Abraham Lincoln, the loss of Lincoln, is heartbreaking,” Spielberg told the crowd at Gettysburg, “And I admit that one of the reasons I wanted to make this film, I wanted — impossibly — to bring Lincoln back from his sleep of one-and-a-half centuries even if only for two-and-a-half hours, and even if only in a cinematic dream.”

The gravitas of the event was certainly not lost on the director. At the beginning of his speech he said: “I’ve never stood any place on earth where it’s easier to be humble than here. Gettysburg. Delivering an address. Humble hardly covers it.”

“It’s not just that I’m standing near where Lincoln stood when he delivered what many people, myself included, consider the most perfect prose poem ever penned by an American” he continued. “It’s not just that I’m speaking where Lincoln uttered words that helped change the course of American history by changing how we understand ourselves and the whole point of American democracy.” Lincoln debuted in the US Box Office over the weekend with respectable takings of $21 million, to place it third behind the final Twilight film Breaking Dawn – Part 2 and Skyfall.