Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to see a preview screening of the new Steven Spielberg film “Lincoln”. Possibly because I have an interest in politics and history (my two majors in college) I was already predisposed to like this movie, but I greatly enjoyed the film. While I have not seen every recent Spielberg film, I think this is one of his better films in a while. Though the movie is not fast paced or action packed, it had enough movement to not make it seem slow to me.
The basic setting of the movie is from January to April of 1865, when Lincoln was trying to pass the thirteenth amendment to the constitution abolishing slavery and the U.S. Civil War was coming to an end. It worked out well that Spielberg chose a small part of Lincoln’s life to make into a movie. If he had not I do not think he would have been as successful as he was with this film. The time frame that they ended up choosing for the film I think worked well. They picked a period where there was a lot going on for Lincoln not just with the war exclusively, but also the hard fought battle of one of Lincoln’s bigger legislative fights that he faced with the thirteenth amendment. The time they picked helped to show the continuing cost the Civil War was having not just on Lincoln but the country as well.
For me the cast led by Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln did a great job all around. Lewis portrayed Lincoln excellently and very convincingly brought him to life I thought, showing the conflict and great stress that the war and the amendment fight brought to Lincoln, along with his family issues he faced. Tommy Lee Jones also did a great job as one of the politicians working for passage of the amendment. If Daniel Day-Lewis does not get Oscar nomination I would be shocked.
The issue of equality was the great issue that was at stake during the discussion of the thirteenth amendment. I think it is still very relevant to our country today in a different way at least to me. Today we are fighting about whether people can marry whom ever they want to marry legally. Having just gone through a tough constitutional amendment fight here in Minnesota about whether we should ban gay marriage it is a very divisive issue still and bet it will be for a while. While that connection may not come up for every one who watches this movie, but since I saw this movie before the 2012 election that issue was certainly on my mind.
Overall I think you have a lover of history or Lincoln himself I recommend seeing this film.
The movie is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s biography of Lincoln, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Trailer for the film below: