Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn
In this 2012 movie from Steven Spielberg, we meet Abraham Lincoln, the United States 16th president, struggling to keep everything together. It begins with Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War, and occasionally jumps further back to other important events in his life. One area I had hoped they would elaborate on was the loss of his son, however they skip over that and jump straight to his nutjob of a wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. This was interesting to see considering you wouldn’t think someone who’s supporting their husband during such a horrible time could be a complete witch about everything and mildly self absorbed. Then its back to Robert Lincoln, who’s the standard obnoxious rebellious youth. They even introduced some of the Senators who approved of slavery, and were tactful in their execution of presenting them as people instead of vilifying them. All are interesting concepts considering not much was said about his life outside the 13th amendment.
Now with that being said the major disappointing thing about this movie, we already know how his story ends. Lincoln is one of the most prolific, telling, and lawful good men to have ever come out of the United State of America. To say what he did in his limited amount of time on Earth was impressive is a woeful understatement and everyone who has ever taken a American history course already knows this. We know he frees the slaves, we know what happens to him. Yes they diverted into some of the side characters like Thaddeus Stevens and it told multiple peoples story rather well, but I went to see ‘Lincoln’, not a revisited history lesson for the last hour on how he, and others, helped free the slaves.
The reason this hour of the movie isn’t palpable to me is that some of the dialogue almost marries up to anything seen in politics today. Many of the scenes are angry old men yelling at each other in a cramped room. Its nice to revisit older ways of life and thinking, but I didn’t feel it added much to life of Lincoln. It added to the process of freeing slaves, but at this point it felt like that should have been it’s own movie or some of the other characters could have been one.
If anything it was completely impressive visually. It captured a truly depressing atmosphere and a continued sense of chaos. It cuts from burning houses to chopped up body parts just thrown into a ditch while continuing the story. The attention to detail is truly impressive and and it immerses you in the time period. There are even scenes where the actors look like they’re covered in dirt, or continuously sweating, which would completely represent the fact that many didn’t bath during that period.
This is a good period piece, but little else. They focus too much on other things rather then the main character. I mean ‘Lincoln’ is in the title. He’s one of the ONLY posters they made for the movie. They did this successfully with Hitchcock, even with his subtle nuances and idiosyncrasies that probably no one understood except micro-expression experts. The only reason I think this did so well is that it was a history lesson to the rest of world, while America likes to rehash old wounds and bring up the subject about race for the zillionth time. If you like period pieces see this, if not just skip it.
Rhys’ Rating: 7 out of 10