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Lincoln (2012 film)

A film about the 16th president of the U.S. directed by Steven Spielberg

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The Road to Human Dignity

  • Nov 12, 2012
President Abraham Lincoln is perhaps one of the most loved, the most admired president in history. Put that together with director Steven Spielberg impressive resume, Daniel-Day Lewis in the title role supported by a stellar cast headed by Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones, 2012’s “Lincoln” would obviously be a winner. Well, the film is indeed all that may have been promised and more. The timing of the film’s release was set to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Emanticipation Proclamation.

                      Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln in "Lincoln."

Based on the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin “Team of Rivals: The Political genius of Abraham Lincoln”, the film covers the final 4 months of Lincoln’s life. The book was a biography of the loved president, and obviously any movie that will based on it will not be able to bring all its details into the screen. The screenplay instead focuses on Lincoln and his political collision to end slavery and the civil war. Pres. Lincoln (played Daniel Day-Lewis) is set on having the 13th amendment to the constitution passed in the House of Representatives. Having support from certain Republicans (Tommy Lee Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens) and his cabinet headed by Sec. of State William Seward (David Strathairn). Lincoln with his wife (Sally Field) and their two children (Gulliver McGrath and Gordon Joseph-Levitt) must overcome everything to do what his heart dictates and what he calls as “Human Dignity”.

                  Daniel Day-Lewis as president Abraham Lincoln in "Lincoln."

                 Daniel Day-Lewis as president Abraham Lincoln in "Lincoln."

                David Strathairn as William Seward and Daniel Day-Lewis as president Abraham Lincoln in "Lincoln."

The screenplay written by Tony Kushner (who wrote the script for Munich) takes it focus on the political arena during Lincoln’s time, his relationship with his family, the harrowing effects of the Civil War and his collision with the members of the House of Representatives who oppose the 13th amendment. Much as the direction and the script puts the central focus on the politics and the lengths that the president went into, it was also able to define Lincoln as a man, a husband and a father. Being a political war drama, the screenplay and the direction were also sensitive to the fact that the events occurred during a tumultuous time. There were several scenes that depict the horrors of war. In this way, the film was able to also define the stakes involved and the sacrifices that were made in order for America to be a better place and to fulfill what human dignity was all about.

What carried “Lincoln” is the way that it was able to allow the viewer to become immersed by the emotions of each scene. The film had several powerful moments, the dialogue drove the film’s dramatic strength and pace. Much of the film deals with the political comings and goings, and how ideals and sometimes personal interests seemed to influence a decision. The film was careful in painting the Democrats as the bad guy, and the what was called the ‘radical’ Republicans in the film. There is a lesson to be seen here, as it seems to me that when a political party wants to create change that can lead to history, they can be labeled as ‘radicals’. The exchanges between Lincoln and his cabinet were just powerful. The conversations between Lincoln and his wife, his display of affection to his children defined the man. The sequences in the House of Representatives were doubtlessly written to express the political arena of the time.

                          Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens in "Lincoln."

                         Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robert Todd in "Lincoln."

But no matter how good a script or a screenplay is, the direction has to be able to maintain its focus to drive the film’s momentum. Spielberg is at top form here, and his direction must’ve truly made with emotions and power in mind. Daniel Day-Lewis was stellar in his portrayal of the Abraham Lincoln. The actor became Lincoln, his mannerisms, his demeanor and the way he delivered his stories certainly exuded just how we see the man and the president. I loved the scene where he pondered his reply to letter from General Ulysses S. Grant (Jared Harris) with a story, truly this was a man who cares about what is taking place in his country. Sally Field also had her own time to shine, as the woman, mother, wife to a president. I did see that the film had a missed area of opportunity (why she did not want her son, Robert Todd Lincoln to join the army), but it was so small that I hardly gave it notice. Gordon Joseph-Levitt’s time in the screen was limited, but it proved vital in one of the film’s scenes.

However, as much as the film was driven more by its powerful emotional drama, the script does allow for some moments of subtle and sarcastic humor delivered by Tommy Lee Jones’ character. There were also several familiar touches made by Spielberg as the trio tasked by William Seward (to secure "House"  votes) added some playful banter to balance the film’s emotions. I know some touches were probably made for flamboyance, but they proved to be an integral part of the film. “Lincoln” was indeed well acted, and given the accurate set designs and costumes, the film was a handsome re-enactment of a significant place in history.

                            Daniel Day-Lewis as president Abraham Lincoln in "Lincoln."

I suppose one could say that the film had a missed opportunity that it wasn’t able to truly define the side of the Democrats and/or what the Confederates were truly fighting for, in this area, the film did barely scratch the surface. However, this is a film about a man and a president, Lincoln moved heaven and earth to do what was needed and what was right. If you see the film for what it is, you will see that it was a compelling piece that depicted a place in history. Powerful, emotional, up-lifting and sometimes heart-breaking, the film is a well-balanced piece of filmmaking despite its historical inaccuracies. Daniel Day-Lewis should win an Oscar for his performance, and “Lincoln” is just something that should be seen by every American. It has a message that we need to be reminded of from time to time.

Highly Recommended! [4 ½ Out of 5 Stars]

                                Daniel Day-Lewis as president Abraham Lincoln in "Lincoln."

The Road to Human Dignity The Road to Human Dignity

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November 22, 2012
This movie is definitely on the list for multiple Academy Awards.
November 13, 2012
Going to see this film this weekend, glad to read that it is good. Also in a related Lincoln topic, have you seen The Asylum's "Abraham Lincoln vs Zombies". The movie is not horrible but the dude who played Lincoln was excellent, especially considering the film he was in.
November 13, 2012
This was great--I was stunned as to how much the theater was packed for its advanced screening. I have that title in my netflix streaming--thanks for the tip!
More Lincoln (2012 film) reviews
review by . December 28, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
This movie had a lot of good individual parts: a really good cast, a great director, and a National icon.  However, in sum this movie didn't live up to what it could be.  The story focuses on the end of the Civil War and Lincoln's push to get the 13th Ammendment through the House of Representatives.  Lincoln talks about how he used the powers granted to him because of the war, to pass the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves.  He gives a difficut explanation …
review by . January 08, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
      A film named "Lincoln" spreads specific expectations. The audience needs to be in touch with the man's life, needs to understand him and to get behind his motivations and wishes. When the only thing you get is a film dedicated to one single important event from this man's life, then at least the audience would want a better understanding of why this person pursued this dream of his. When you don't even get a clear picture of that, then my friend, the …
review by . November 05, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
'Lincoln' Spielberg, Daniel Day Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones Do the 16th President Proud (Video)
  Two Jews On Lincoln twojewsonfilm·205 videos   35 views    By Joan Alperin Schwartz   Okay I know what some of you may be thinking...A film about Abraham Lincoln...Boring!!! Let me assure you it's anything but...boring.      Steven Spielberg has directed a riverting, intense, exciting, fascinating film about the President of the U. S. that put everything on the line, to pass the 13th amendent to the constitution, which …
review by . December 01, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Politics can be dull
The movie examines Abraham Lincoln's (Daniel Day-Lewis) efforts to pass the 13th Amendment in the last few months of his life. It is a detailed account of his strategy and the negotiations of the members of his cabinet, especially his Secretary of State, William Seward (David Strathairn).      The story deals with the minute details involved in making slavery illegal; conversations between pompous politicians are endless and dry and I found it boring. I would have preferred …
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Movies, Civil War, Slavery, Abraham Lincoln, Political Intrigue, Tommy Lee Jones, Daniel Day Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Jackie Earle Haley, Tim Blake Nelson, James Spader, John Hawkes, Jared Harris, The 13th Amendment, Lincoln Movie Review


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