I read a good interview with Steven Spielberg about his latest film ‘Lincoln’ that provided good information about the making of the film. This section of the interview from Deadline.com struck me the most because this answer really showed to me what Spielberg did with the film. How he made it more successful having a tighter focus on what areas of Lincoln to show.
DEADLINE: This is just my opinion, but I felt that you and Tony Kushner kept Lincoln from being a succession of scenes of backroom politics and blustery speeches by making it a caper movie, where the heist was basically all the maneuvering that went into passing the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery, before accepting the South’s surrender. As you were putting this together did you approach it as a biopic?
SPIELBERG: I never saw it as a biopic. I sometimes refer to it as a Lincoln portrait, meaning that it was one painting out of many that could have been drawn over the years of the president’s life. Had I done the entire presidency, or his entire life, that would have qualified as biopic.
via Steven Spielberg On Making ‘Lincoln’ — Interview.
In another interesting part in the interview Spielberg relays from a historian how even for a figure as large as Lincoln one could get lost if you tried to tell a story about the Civil War, because of the war itself being so vast.