by Alexandra McClain
Lincoln is directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography of Lincoln, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, which covers the final four months of Lincoln’s life. The movie centers around Lincoln and his cabinet members’ battle to get the 13th amendment passed to end slavery and essentially end the Civil War.
Daniel Day Lewis transforms into Lincoln and does a great job in making the President appear more personable. The audience will get a view into Lincoln’s private and public life. Watching Day Lewis portray Lincoln is alluring. He brings both wit and humor to the role helping to give the audience a better essence of who Lincoln was as a man. Day Lewis brings to life a light hearted demeanor in Lincoln. Day Lewis takes on the role of President Lincoln in mind, body and spirit; even down to the President’s awkward walk and posture. He’s so convincing and immersed in the role, it could be easy to forget he’s not the real President.
Some defining moments in the film focused on Lincoln’s clever tales. It seemed they were always timely and revealed a President who was both compassionate and capable of moving people in ways they didn’t always expect.
The audience will enjoy watching the relationships Lincoln had with his cabinet, particularly the relationship between him and secretary of state William H. Seward, played by David Strathairn. Tommy Lee Jones gives an intriguing performance as Congressman Thaddeus Stevens. There are times when it seems Stevens wants to work against Lincoln, but ultimately he helps to become a key player in advocating the passing of the 13th amendment. Lee’s role brings a balance of humor, wit and sarcasm when needed in a room full of stiff neck congressmen.
Politics are balanced with some of Lincoln’s personal family life that includes moments his wife and kids. The audience will see Lincoln as not only a president, but a father and a husband. However, the film tends to scrape his family relationships on the surface. For example, while Lincoln’s sons are in the film, more time is focused on Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd, played by Sally Field.
The movie starts off a little slow, but seeing the battle of getting the amendment passed will eventually draw viewers in. The movie does a decent job at building suspense. Even though we all know the amendment eventually got passed, watching the actual events leading up to its passing makes it that much more intense.
This movie is perfect for fans of politics and history, and almost timely considering our own recent Presidential election. Before watching this movie, most people probably remember Lincoln as the President who gave the Gettysburg address. However after watching the film many may come away having a more intimate picture of America’s 16th President as the man he truly was.
LINCOLN movie review
by Alexandra McClain