CWM

Lincoln Lives!

In Movies on November 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Sadly, he doesn’t survive in “Lincoln” but sweet Jesus does Daniel Day-Lewis do a good job bringing this historical figure to life. My God, this actor is amazing and I quote and agree with Stephen Colbert when he said, “Shouldn’t they just be making Oscars in the shape of Daniel Day-Lewis’s face?”. I haven’t heard Lincoln speak, but now I simply imagine Day-Lewis’s softly spoken Illinois accent as Lincoln. Needless to say I loved this movie, but note this, this movie is not for everyone. It is a legislative passing dialogue driven drama, thus making it powerful but very slow-moving so if you are not interested in this aspect of Lincoln, then go watch him as a vampire hunter.

Stephen Spielberg directs this film starring Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, David Straithairn as William Seward, Joseph Gorden-Levitt as Robert Lincoln, James Spader as W.N. Bilbo, Hal Holbrook as Preston Blair, Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, John Hawkes as Robert Latham, Jackie Earle Haley as Alexander Stephens, Time Blake Nelson as Richard Schell, Jared Harris as Ulysses S. Grant, and so many other actors. I cannot stress that enough, this film is filled with familiar faces who all come together to make this wonderful film. “Lincoln” tells the story of Lincoln who is trying to pass the 13th amendment, which outlaws slavery, while simultaneously ending the Civil War. Not such an easy task, the effects of which Day-Lewis shows quite well. Lincoln enlists the help of Seward to effectively buy the vote by promising individuals within the House of Representatives who vote for this amendment a government job that they wish. Lincoln also works with Preston Blair to begin peace negotiations with the South while keeping the Southern representatives at bay because he knows that they will oppose the amendment, thus effectively destroying the amendment. Lincoln juggles and confronts all of these opposing voices within his cabinet and within various meetings he holds, determined to end the Civil War and pass the 13th amendment, two tasks that Seward believes cannot be completed together. Oscar worthy, this film is. Best Screenplay for sure and Best Supporting for David Straithairn and Tommy Lee Jones. The conversations that occur between all of these characters are realistic, especially the candor established between Sally Field and Day-Lewis. Their scenes were especially powerful. If you like Daniel Day-Lewis or any of the other actors mentioned, then take a look at this film. If you wish to see Lincoln in the flesh, then see this movie, because sweet Jesus, he is alive and well and on the big screen.

Onto the nitty-gritty spoiler filled review!

So one of the problems that my girlfriend had with this film, was the continuation of the film following the passing of the amendment, depicting Lincoln’s death without actually showing it. This is an interesting choice because it would make sense to show the death of Lincoln and continue the film, but Spielberg didn’t do that. Rather, he showed Lincoln’s youngest reacting to the news. I believe that Spielberg took the high road in this aspect, he wanted to show the movie up until Lincoln died, but didn’t want to show Lincoln getting shot. I think this may be because he didn’t want Lincoln to be remembered as the President that got assassinated, rather, as the President that outlawed slavery. That was the whole purpose of the film, but the ending is worth noting because it is unique. Showing his death without really showing his death.

I thought Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones were both amazing in this film. Sally Field depicting a distraught woman coming to terms with the death of her son, trying to support her husband and her family without allowing herself to feel any form of happiness. She was incredible in this film, giving the audience a different view of Mary Todd Lincoln, and even commenting on the view that many viewers hold of her. I thought she portrayed this strained depressed woman, extremely well. Tommy Lee Jones, gah! His script alone was phenomenal in this film and his struggle with his beliefs regarding slavery and the passage of the amendment were beautifully portrayed. He had to stifle his own beliefs in order to ensure the passage of the bill and the difficulty that he felt doing this was shown quite well.

Seeing Lincoln as a father was another great aspect about this film. Not only was he juggling the Civil War and the 13th amendment, but Robert wanted to fight in the war and his youngest didn’t have his mother to look after him. Fatherly Lincoln was a side I have never seen, nor heard of, and I loved it. He wanted to protect his son from the atrocities of war while also allowing him to be a man. It was great to see this side of him.

Another aspect I liked about this film, was the fact that they didn’t gloss over the illegalities of what Lincoln was doing, because what he was doing was illegal. He was using his executive powers to influence the legislative branch, which is sooo not something you’re supposed to do.  But Spielberg didn’t gloss over this, it is made very clear to the viewer that this is not something that the President should be doing. But the question is, does the end justify the means? He was doing this to ensure the end of slavery and hindsight, being awesome, the viewer knows that this was the right thing to do, but at that point, Lincoln and his staff didn’t. This uncomfortable-ness was displayed and voiced by Seward and other members of his staff and the movie benefited from this.

The one aspect of this film that I had a problem with, was Lincoln’s reason for supporting the 13th amendment. This was discussed only vaguely. I know that slavery is morally wrong but to think like that in that day and age was unique and sometimes dangerous. Thaddeus believed it was wrong because it was wrong AND because he was in love with his house keeper. The reason for Lincoln’s support of the amendment isn’t discussed in detail and I wish it was.

All in all, great movie. Slow but powerful and extremely well written. Watch it and let me know what you think

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  1. Loved this movie. It showed the complexity of government, and all of the deal making that goes along with it. it is intereting to see that all of the wheeling an dealing that everyone thinks just happens in our time, has been going on since our government began.
    Hoping that many Oscars go to this fim. Brilliant.

    • I also wish government included more name-calling of yore, because C-SPAN would be so much more interesting

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