“Lincoln” is not a bio-pic in the sense that the movie does not follow Lincoln through his life, or even his term as president. It could have easily been name “The Story of the 13th Amendment.”
Yeah, I know. Not as exciting. And again, not completely accurate. The film takes in more than the acts that led to the adoption of that critical amendment.
I admit, when I heard the film was a Stephen Spielberg creation, I was a bit skeptical. But from the credits, the film was based on the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (on my list, but not yet read).
“Lincoln” covers his last four months in office. The Civil War is winding down, although the South is still resisting, the war is still taking thousands of lives.
The first thing I wondered was when did Daniel Day-Lewis get so tall? For some reason it continued to nag me throughout the film.
But Day-Lewis was brilliant in the role of Lincoln. I felt I was watching Lincoln. I don’t want to take anything away from the supporting actors; they were excellent in their roles. And a lot of familiar faces, Sally Field, of course, David Strathairn, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones, Gregory Itzin, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson, too many to name.
But the film belongs to Day-Lewis. I felt as though I were actually watching Lincoln.
The movie does not paint Lincoln in the noble light that many who are only faintly acquainted with him see him. He is a politician, as any one who has ever risen to the highest office must have been, save, perhaps, Washington.
He used every trick in the book to get the Thirteenth Amendment through the House, ending, according to the movie, by being anything but “Honest Abe.”
The great lesson from the movie is that democracy (or a republic, if you will) is messy and not always a pretty sight.
It’s just a shame it took all those years and hundreds of thousands of lives to just say that all people were equal.
It is highly recommended.
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