Movie Review — Lincoln

by Ryan on November 18, 2012

in History,Pop Culture

Steven Spielberg’s latest historical endeavor, Lincoln, hit theaters nationally this weekend.  Here’s the trailer:

This movie was based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s best-selling book Team of Rivals, and focuses on Lincoln’s attempt to pass the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States.  The film doesn’t attempt to cover Lincoln’s whole life, administration, or the entire Civil War.  There are references to some of the major events of the war, like the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, the death of Lincoln’s son Eddie, and the recent 1864 Election, but the film does not dwell on them too much.

Lincoln begins in January 1865 and deals with all the major issues facing the Union on the brink of ending a civil war not quite over, with an impatient nation and Congress looking for the South to capitulate.  Abolishing slavery by Constitutional Amendment seems a radical, but necessary step in ending the war.  The Abraham Lincoln depicted in this film is a real human, a concerned husband, a caring father, as well as a deceptively shrewd politician.  Daniel Day Lewis was spot on as Lincoln.

The film had the same basic formula as Spielberg’s 1997 movie Amistad.  It’s a mature film, for a mature audience.  I could not see my students falling in love with this movie — too much inside politics, 19th Century vernacular, and conversation between the characters.  I can see them politely laughing when the adults in the room give them a cue that one is supposed to have found that moment humorous.  However, I thought it was very well-done, but then again, I have an attention span.  As a historical movie, it’s excellent.  My complaints are merely superficial.  Lincoln is mostly a serious movie about a perilous time in our past, which may bore the casual movie-goer.  I’d give it a solid A anyway.  If someone is to make a historical film, it should be done right.  This one was.

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