At The Movies - Lincoln

An amazing film

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This might well be the only five saw blade movie of the year; certainly it is the best film to see the big screen between January and November.  Everyone connected with this movie realized that this could be one for the ages, one to take its place along with the truly great films of all time and they all gave their very best efforts.  Lincoln, man or movie, is magnificent.  This is not a biography of the whole man, but only a slice of his life from the post election period of 1864 to his murder in 1865 and deals mostly with the hard work of passing the 13th Amendment.

It is also densely filled with little known, but important historical facts; facts that are presented in an accessible way by director Steven Spielberg and writer Tony Kushner.  But we watchers sitting in the dark mostly notice the acting, which in this case will raise a bumper crop of Oscar nominations.

Daniel Day-Lewis is likely to win his third Oscar for his portrayal of Lincoln.  His Lincoln is a moral giant beaten down by historical events and surrounded by fanatics (raging Republican abolitionists), moral lepers (Democrats fighting against the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery forever) and just plain ordinary, run of the mill politicians.  He is beaten down, but far from beaten.  In a short scene at the beginning of the film Lincoln speaks with a Black corporal (well played by Englishman David Qyelowo).  Lincoln uses his typical backwoods folksiness with little effect.  He is clearly not comfortable with Blacks, no matter how deep his commitment to ending slavery.  Day-Lewis threads this particular needle using his face and voice to give us the message.

Mary Todd Lincoln as played by Sally Fields – also likely to get an Oscar nomination – is by turn crazy, needy, demanding and in her lucid moments, clearly deeply in love with her astonishing husband.  Tommy Lee Jones should be nominated for best supporting actor for his role as Thaddeus Stevens, a man so strict in his morality that he might derail his lifetime work of abolition by adherence to standards too high for this fallen world.  I thought he had peaked in No Country for Old Men, but nope, he had more to give and we get it in his Thaddeus Stevens.  David Strathairn plays Seward, Lincoln’s secretary of state and close adviser.  Busy Joseph Gordon-Levitt is great as Robert Lincoln, who holds his manhood cheap, to quote the Bard, to stand by the sidelines while others fight.  Wife and sons as well as the fate of the nation weigh on the president.

Hal Holbrook – How many great roles has he had? – Is the slightly potty Preston Blair who gave his name to Blair House where our vice presidents live today.  Jackie Earl Haley is a Confederate delegate sent to negotiate an end to the war.  John Hawkes (Deadwood) and James Spader play a pair of political fixers, busy doing dirty deeds to snag votes.  Spader plays W.N. Bilbo, an actual, historical Democrat party operative who Lincoln freed from jail and then used to pluck votes from among pro-slavery Democrat Party Representatives.

Lincoln runs a solid two hours and 25 minutes and gets a PG-13 rating (there are a couple of disturbing depictions of the inglorious results of terrible conflict.)  This is an amazing film.  I want to see it again.  I am sure I missed something.

A movie everyone should see

Katie Schouten

Teen reviewer

Many of us grow up hearing in school about “Honest Abe”, our 16th president, who lived in a log cabin. But Spielberg’s latest film gives us a bird’s eye view of the man who was Lincoln.

The movie Lincoln delves much further into Abraham Lincoln than the average history student could tell you. Although he was the orator of the most famous speech in American history, Lincoln was a man who did much more than stand on the battlefield at Gettysburg.

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln follows Abraham Lincoln during the last two months of his life, as he pushes to pass the 13th Amendment in the House of Representatives, as well as fight for a negotiated peace for the United States.

Daniel Day-Lewis plays Abraham Lincoln. Watching him gave me the feeling that I was actually there. He did so well at his role that I felt that he wasn’t even the actor, but the real person.

Playing Mary Todd Lincoln is Sally Field. Her character was complex and true to the history books. It allowed us to see Lincoln’s family struggles.

Playing the less well known, but still important Congressman Thaddeus Stevens is Tommy Lee Jones. These three, along with the other actors, did a superb job bringing out the struggle that Lincoln faced in the passing of the 13th Amendment.

The movie is rated PG-13, mostly for the Civil War scenes, but I wouldn’t let that stop anyone from seeing it. Not only is it very educational, but Lincoln is incredibly well done.

I think I would be echoed in saying that I came out of the theater feeling a great respect for the man Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln was directed by Steven Spielberg, which gives high expectations. Spielberg really did a fantastic job. I would not be surprised if he took an Oscar for both director and picture.

The movie is two-and-a-half hours long. While it is slightly slow in places, it is a very rewarding film to watch. In between scenes of the amendment process, there are entertaining anecdotes told by the character of Lincoln, as well as a view into the life of the 16th president, and life in Washington D.C. during the Civil War. Overall, the experience is very enjoyable.

Lincoln is a movie that I would recommend that everyone should see. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would definitely watch it again. I feel like we will be seeing more of Lincoln’s face than just on the penny, but also at the Oscars.

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