Abraham Lincoln is considered by historians to be one of the best, if not the best, President of the United States of America. It is only fitting that one of the best directors of our time takes the helm on Lincoln. Most audience members that wander into Lincoln will already be aware of the events that transpire throughout the course of the film. We know what the outcome of the movie will be, because it is history. However, the joy is in the journey as you are thrust back into an explosive time rife with turmoil and change. Lincoln is ripped from the pages of history, meticulously reenacted and then hurled onto the big screen for our enjoyment.
Lincoln plunges us directly into the Civil War; a time of conflict, slavery and the unrelenting desire for all men and women to be free. President Abraham Lincoln, our sixteenth president, has already proposed Amendment 13 to Congress and it has been denied once. He is trying to abolish slavery and bring peace to the entire nation. The film draws us into the turmoil and strife taking place during this time. Racial tension is high as Lincoln and others pursue the freedom of all in the United States. There are others who feel slaves are inferior and should not be allowed their freedom. This well-crafted think piece digs deep to find the heart, soul and suffering of this era surrounding this volatile and extremely pivotal point in history.
Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York, There Will Be Blood) portrays Abraham Lincoln, delivering an Oscar worthy performance. Daniel is quite convincing as Lincoln, showing a full range of emotion and temperament. There were so many good actors in Lincoln it would be impossible to mention them all. Other noteworthy performances came from the likes of Sally Field (Forrest Gump, Mrs. Doubtfire) who plays Mary Todd Lincoln. She really drove home the notion that Lincoln’s wife was mentally unbalanced. James Spader (Stargate, Boston Legal) plays W.N. Bilbo, a lobbyist of sorts, trying to help win votes to pass the 13th Amendment. If you don’t look closely you might not realize it is James Spader. He does a great job as a shady palm greaser.
Tommy Lee Jones (Men in Black 3, Hope Springs) plays Thaddeus Stevens, a Congressman who is quite passionate about the passage of the 13th Amendment. Tommy’s character has a sharp tongue, razor sharp wit and the uncanny ability to insult others publicly. He nails this role and is quite humorous at times, while bringing passion and conviction to the role as well. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Premium Rush, Looper) has a small role as Lincoln’s son Robert. While he does a good job, it’s a bit part in a grandiose film. David Strathairn (Fracture, The Bourne Legacy) plays William Seward, Secretary of State. David delivers in his role and is quite convincing. Lee Pace (The Good Shepard, A Single Man) plays Fernando Wood, a showboating democrat in direct opposition of the 13th amendment. Lee’s role is quite brilliant and in direct conflict with Tommy’s character as they banter back and forth, producing laughter to ease the tension after long periods of dramatic sequences.
Tony Kushner is credited with writing the screenplay for Lincoln. While Tony doesn’t have an extensive resume, what he does have listed on there is quite impressive. Tony is apparently going for quality and not quantity. His last writing credit was Munich (2005), which was an equally impressive film. Tony seems to do his homework and really captures the zeitgeist of the period, especially with Lincoln. The dialogue was superb and the screenplay itself was a masterpiece. Tony was able to weave drama, pain, depth of emotion and strategically place dialogue to make the theater erupt in laughter. The bickering and bantering between democrats and republicans was flat out hilarious at times. Tony obviously put a lot of thought into this screenplay and it delivers in spades.
Steven Spielberg is one of the most well respected men in Hollywood. He’s known for some of the greatest science fiction movies of all time. If Spielberg had not directed Lincoln this movie would have been destined for the History channel. Spielberg takes everything he touches and turns it into cinema magic. His ability to direct is an amazing gift. With every movie he pulls you into his vision with a passion that is unparalleled. It’s great to see Spielberg diversify his portfolio by tackling more serious material such as Lincoln. This film certainly took a lot of patience, coordination and direction. Regardless of your taste in movies, you cannot deny that Spielberg always pushes every aspect of his films to the highest possible level.
Lincoln is an epic masterpiece that will undoubtedly be amongst the Oscar buzz. The movie itself will not be a huge blockbuster success, but only because the content does not lend itself to the disposable income crowd. This is a serious film for more mature audiences who appreciate great acting, cinematography and an important period of time in United States history. If you have any interest at all in this movie you should make the time to see it. The performances, screenplay, directing, cinematography and editing were all first class. Everyone involved in the making of this film should pat themselves on the back for a job well done.
G-S-Talking point: Regardless of the content, Steven Spielberg can turn any movie into something spectacular. What do you think? Further, what’s your favorite Spielberg movie (Directed by or Written by Spielberg)?