Movie Review: “Lincoln”


Pam and I saw “Lincoln” today. That makes two Lincoln movies this year, though this, if I may make a wild guess, was probably more historically accurate than “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”

Some thoughts.

  • Daniel Day Lewis–great choice! Looked so much like Lincoln.
  • Interesting, taking just a sliver or his presidency to cover in the movie. Nothing grand or sweeping.
  • I’ve not read about this piece of history–the passage of the 13th amendment. I found the movie fascinating, but I can’t speak to its accuracy. I’m assuming Spielberg stayed true to the actual story. Haven’t heard critics saying otherwise.
  • Sally Field was superb. So was Tommy Lee Jones. And David Straithairn. In fact, there was not a bad performance.
  • The beginning battle scene was fascinating–nasty, chaotic, probably a lot like the real thing. I’d love to see Spielberg direct a Civil War battle movie.
  • I liked the lumbering gait Lewis gave to Lincoln. There was a scene toward the end, where he walks away from the camera, where this was especially pronounced.
  • Loved the stories Lincoln told. Especially the one about George Washington’s picture in the bathroom. And the “true north” story.
  • It was a very human–and believable–Lincoln. Sitting in a chair with his socked feet sticking up. Crawling around on the floor to stir up a fire. Sitting in a chair motionless, deep in thought. His unruly hair. The shouting match with Mary.
  • My goodness, Congressmen spoke nasty to each other back then!
  • The legal and pragmatic realities, entanglements, and dilemmas that Lincoln faced were daunting, and explained pretty well. Like the various issues surrounding the Emancipation Proclamation as a purely wartime measure, and what would happen to slaves once peace returned. Lincoln had some truly enormous issues to wrestle with.
  • I loved the opening scene with the two black soldiers, and how they worked in the Gettysburg Address. Nice touch.
  • I really liked the scene sitting with Grant before the surrender, and then the Appamatox Courthouse scene.
  • An interesting surprise with Thaddeus Stevens at the end.
  • I totally did not recognize James Spader in his role. Gloria Reuben, either.

This was a thinking person’s movie. Very little action. The plot basically involved political wranglings and arm-twisting, and discussions of highly important issues wrapped in dilemmas. I highly recommend the movie, and won’t be surprised if some actors, starting with Day-Lewis, win Oscars.

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