Culture Street

Film review: Lincoln

On February 24, 2013

By Sophia Whitfield

Directed by Stephen Spielberg Lincoln is based on the last four months of Abraham Lincolnís life, the 16th President of the United States.

The film opens with a bloody battle scene, a year before the end of the Civil War that had divided the country for four years. The central focus of the film is the decision Lincoln must make between ending the long bloody war in a deal with the Confederate army or persuading the House of Representatives to enact the 13th Amendment, thereby abolishing slavery and ending the war.

Daniel Day-Lewis depicts a gentle, somewhat aloof man with a sincere mission. Through Day-Lewis we see an eloquent, humble Lincoln, aged beyond his years by the bloodshed of the American Civil War.

Lincoln endeared himself to the people with his candid storytelling often amusing those close to him breaking up the serious tone of the time. He worked vigorously always with the same goal in sight. He was not afraid to lobby for votes to gain the outcome he most wanted, James Spader, John Hawkes and Tim Blake Nelson play his three lobbyists with a good deal of humour.

Tommy Lee Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens, a radical Republican and staunch supporter of the Amendment who must tone down his beliefs in order to get the Amendment passed. Even the brilliance of Tommy Lee Jones is not able to upstage the terrific performance given by Daniel Day-Lewis.

Spielberg chooses not to show Lincolnís assassination at the Ford St Theatre, but instead shows his youngest son witnessing the announcement of his fatherís assassination made by the theatre manager at another event he was attending. We then see Lincoln lying in bed, pronounced dead.

Spielberg focuses his film on the 13th Amendment; nothing gets in the way of this. The battle scene at the beginning of the film is brief and the assassination a minor event in a film that strives to commend Lincoln with one of the biggest reforms of the Constitution in the history of the United States.

It is no surprise that Lincoln has been nominated for 12 Oscars, including best picture. The performances are staggering and Daniel Day-Lewis exceptional.



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