Lincoln

17 Nov

Synopsis: Steven Spielberg directs a story of Abraham Lincoln.  As the Civil War continues to rage, America’s president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.

CAST

Daniel Day Lewis…………………………………………………………..Lincoln

Sally Field……………………………………………………Mary Todd Lincoln

David Strathairn…………………………………………………William Seward

Joseph Gordon-Levitt………………………………………….Robert Lincoln

James Spader……………………………………………………………W.N. Bilbo

Hal Holbrook…………………………………………………………Preston Blair

Tommy Lee Jones……………………………………………Thaddeus Stevens

John Hawkes………………………………………………………Robert Latham

Jackie Earle-Haley………………………………………..Alexander Stephens

Bruce McGill…………………………………………………………Edwin Stanton

Jared Harris……………………………………………………….Ulysses S. Grant

Review: It’s hard to imagine that an American icon like Abraham Lincoln was soft spoken and human, we all think of him as a giant among men. It took an extraordinary actor, Daniel Day Lewis under the direction of another American icon, Steven Spielberg to bring this human story to life.

There is are so many subtleties to Lewis’ performance, he nailed Lincoln’s plain folk speech, Lincoln’s war weary hunch and slow walk, and of course his resemblance to Lincoln is remarkable. The story unfolding before us, tells us of Lincoln’s final few weeks of life as he struggles to pass the 13th Amendment and abolish slavery. The civil war has been going on for four years and he has been elected to a second term in office. We see how Lincoln navigates between his duty as public servant, the leader of his country and liberal Republican party, to balancing the tensions of a war almost over, and his love for his two sons and wife.

Sally Field plays his wife Mary Todd Lincoln as both strong-willed and as someone who will defend her husband publicly. She also suffers internally and has not gotten over the death of her first born son who died serving his country in the civil war. She fights her husband and is stubborn and feisty about her political opinions.

The film is similar to the play and film 1776.  1776 tells the story of John Adams fighting for the signing of the Declaration of Independence during the Revolutionary War, Lincoln on the other hand is fighting to get the 13th Amendment passed. Through his Secretary of State, William Seward, played by David Strathairn, Lincoln arranges some backdoor politics to secure the 20 votes he needs to pass the amendment.

Tommy Lee Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens, a cantankerous congressmen and abolitionist. It is not beyond him to cut his opposing Democratic Party congressman down to size and interrupt their speech making even though they may hold the floor. He has a compassionate side and we see it as we find out his personal reason for wanting the amendment to pass.

There are many fine moments and performances in the film, Hal Holbrook plays Preston Blair, and he gives a solid performance, Jared Harris plays a convincing General Grant and David Strathairn plays William Seward with ease.

The costume and set design are accurate and enhance the story in a believable way. Like any good story you are drawn into the time and place. The movie’s running time is 149 minutes but the time goes by quickly. Spielberg is a master at historical drama, this is one of his best. Like 1776 you are sitting at the edge of your seat even though history has showed us the outcome.

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One Response to “Lincoln”

  1. Bill Squier November 17, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    An interesting comparison to 1776! You know the outcome going in, so the drama is all about how that group of people made it happen. Good point!

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