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Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Tony Kushner, Doris Kearns Goodwin
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson, Jared Harris, Joseph Cross, Lee Pace, Peter McRobbie
Synopsis: As the Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language
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Four Score and seven years ago....
Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis), the sixteenth president of the United States. What can I honestly say about this man that hasn't been already said by thousands upon thousands of historians? Or what could I say for that matter that most readers don't already know? Or perhaps, I should simply allow his own actions, that he did during his presidency, do the talking instead.
Whatever your opinions are of Abraham Lincoln, there's no denying that he's arguably one of the most well known Presidents throughout U.S. history. In fact, one could say that he's so iconic in his stature as good old "Honest Abe" that it would be hard to think of him as a human being like the rest of us. After all, most men are prone to selfish greed these days; especially when it comes to most of our current politicians. Therefore, whenever people hear about Abraham Lincoln, it's almost hard to differentiate the iconic figure we've all learned about in history texts to the actual man himself.
Thankfully, Steven Spielberg weaves a masterful film together that not only shows audiences the iconic figure that we've all learned about throughout history classes, but he also shows us a glimpse of the man behind the iconic figure himself. Showing us that like all of us that he wasn't always perfect, and even had problems of his own. Heck, we even see a side of Lincoln, who isn't afraid to deal in political double dealings, when it comes helping his country that's currently shrouded in dark times.
Sure, it would've been easy to portray Lincoln as a "know it all" perfect man that always gets the last word, at the end of every discussion. In fact one could say, it would've been easy to make a film seem too preachy, to the point that it would've made "The Help" seem subtle about it's anti-racism theme by comparison.
However, that never happens. Granted, the film does focus on Lincoln's presidency during the Civil War era; along with his efforts to get the amendment passed that would abolish all slavery, and create equal rights for all men throughout the country. And I won't lie to my readers, it does come off as a bit sappy at times; especially when the film focuses on it's African American characters that end up directly affected by the amendment.
Luckily though, it never ruins the film, but it's worth pointing out. It's also great on how Spielberg uses a bit of symbolism around the end of the film, where we see Lincoln leaving his home to attend the theater with his wife, after the Civil War. An African American servant tries to hand him some gloves, but Abe turns him down, and pats him on the shoulder. Abraham walks away wearing his trademark hat, as the former slave smiles a bit. In fact, we even see a small tear come from his eye. Granted, I'll admit that moment was cheesy, but it worked very well for movie though. Not only pulling on the emotional strings of the audience, but also symbolizing how Lincoln's legacy left an impact on our society.
Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner do a wonderful portraying the man behind the iconic historical figure. Not only showing some of the struggles he had to endure trying to get slavery abolished during the Civil War era, but it also shows him as a family man as well. Highlighting throughout the film how his son, Robert Lincoln (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), wanted to join the army out of some patriotic sentiment, during the Civil War. And like all parents, Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field), adamantly refused to let him enlist because they didn't want to see their son get killed.
Granted, I'm sure any parent wouldn't want their child to die in a war, but as the film alludes to, "At what point do we allow our own children to make up their own minds?" Sure, nobody wants to see their child die in a war, but is it right for the parent to hinder their children's patriotic sentiment if that's really what they choose to do? It's not an easy question to answer, as one can easily see both sides of the argument; hence the film treats the moral dilemma as such.
As for Daniel Day-Lewis' performance, he brings a laid back sense of humanity to an iconic figure, and manages to bring him down to earth to where he's surprisingly relatable. There's no big speeches by this Abraham Lincoln here, as Daniel Day-Lewis portrays him as a laid back person that's not only comes off as kind and charismatic, but clever and stern whenever he has to be get things done. Indeed, Daniel Day Lewis' performance is acting at it's finest, as he not only plays the part, but it becomes almost second nature to him in this role.
As for rest of the cast, they all did a splendid job playing their roles as well. Although I hesitate to say that the role of Robert Lincoln was Joseph Gordon-Levitt's best work, but he still holds his own nonetheless. Sally Field did an excellent job playing the role of over protective mother, yet supportive housewife to Abe Lincoln; while Tommy Lee Jones relishes in the part of Thaddeus Stevens, a Congressman who was infamously known for his flamboyant sarcastic wit, and a fierce opponent to slavery.
Although I wouldn't call "Lincoln" a perfect" movie by any means, as the film does come off as a bit cheesy at times. Overall though, it's not a bad film to watch if you're into biographical and historical movies. Definitely worth seeing at a rating of three and a half out of four.