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Lincoln Movie Poster

Year: 2012
Director: Steven Spielberg

Lincoln Download


Daniel Day-Lewis (Abraham Lincoln), Sally Field (Mary Todd Lincoln), David Strathairn (William Seward), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Robert Lincoln), James Spader (W.N. Bilbo), Hal Holbrook (Preston Blair), Tommy Lee Jones (Thaddeus Stevens), John Hawkes (Robert Latham), Jackie Earle Haley (Alexander Stephens), Bruce McGill (Edwin Stanton), Tim Blake Nelson (Richard Schell), Joseph Cross (John Hay), Jared Harris (Ulysses S. Grant), Lee Pace (Fernando Wood), Peter McRobbie (George Pendleton)


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.


I remember fondly, Henry Fonda and Raymond Massey as Lincolns in "Young Mr.Lincoln" and "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" They gave remarkable performances. But, here and now in this extraordinary Steven Spielberg/Tony Kushner version, the illusion is complete. I was watching the president and not for a moment thought of the actor. That in itself is close to unique. I left the theater with the feeling I've just had an out of body experience. Everything around the central performance - and I call it a performance because I don't know what else to call it - falls into place in a miraculous way. The photography, the production design, the wardrobe made it possible to actually smell the period. Congratulations and thank you.


So what happened?

1. The first problem with this film is the script. The writer Tony Kushner is a Pulitzer winning theater writer, but other than "Munich" he hasn't done any motion pictures. The long drawn out dialogue between Lincoln's cabinet and the lengthy parliamentary congress sessions might play well on Broadway, but they linger on screen. It wasn't just Kushner's fault. Spielberg is one of the few directors who has final cut on anything he does, so ultimately it's yet another vast mis-judgment by the best known director and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. He's currently slated to direct Indiana Jones 5, so I guess that tells you where his judgment is. We're all waiting patiently for him to retire with some dignity, but he's just Brett Favre'n it all the way.

It was a huge mistake for Dreamworks when deciding on the story, not to include Lincoln's childhood, his struggle with schooling, the severe poverty he faced growing up on the western frontier, and how he had to teach himself how to be a lawyer, family roots, his political career, and ultimately, his assassination. It's very clear from the beginning, that this film is not about Lincoln's life, but a very specific part of his presidency,(The Emancipation Proclamation).

90 minutes of this 150 minute film was spent on the 13th Amendment. So much so, that every single member of congress when voting, had their own screen time to voice that vote. It should have been called, "Emancipation" or "ep13", but not "Lincoln." Do not go into this movie expecting to learn about Abraham Lincoln's life. You will be hugely disappointed.

2. There was no sense of space. No aerial shots of Washington DC in the 1860s... no city shots showing how life was back then... just interior scenes, a few battlefield scenes, and a few outdoor speeches. And this coming from one of the greatest special effects pioneers of the medium- lame.

3. No secret service. The Secret Service was created by President Lincoln on April 14, 1865, the day of his assassination. Don't you think that would be an interesting thing to showcase in a movie titled "Lincoln?" One third of the US currency in circulation was counterfeit at the time. There was no mention of it. And also, at no point did you see ANY security around the president except for a few soldiers around him in wide shots. It just made it seem even more like a filmmaker trying to tell his own pretentious tale of history instead of what really happened.

4. To much cabinet delegation and congress discussion; not enough "Lincoln." Sure, the film made an attempt to show his affection for his son Todd, and you did see some private moments with his wife Mary, but it was all put there in a disingenuous way because the story wasn't about his family. It was hammering the 13th Amendment down our throats the whole film. Did the NAACP make this film? Lol.

5. The cast was too big. There's over 120 speaking roles in this film. 120! That's insane. Daniel Day Lewis was dazzling- his eyes just penetrated you, as usual. He projected the essence of Lincoln (at least from what legend suggests) through an indirect manner that can only be witnessed to understand. He will get the Oscar nomination for this, no question. My prediction- he will win the best actor Academy Award. Everyone else was very good, a few were great- Holbrook and Stratharin especially. Sally Field was good, but not great- and Tommy Lee was his old self- always brilliant, but never stretching beyond his usual.

6. The ending. Instead of showing the horror of what happened the night of April 14, 1865, Spielberg decided to leave out the Ford Theater altogether and instead show another theater during another play, in which a man comes on stage and makes an announcement that Lincoln was shot. Then Lincoln's youngest son Todd, who happens to be attending this "other" play, looses it. And that's it. Not only do you have to sit through 2.5 hours of boring film, but there is no pay off at the end (because we KNEW this ending was coming). To show it like they did was almost as tragic as the event itself. I'm not saying show the bullet rip through his skull, but show us the event as it unfolded- don't deny the audience of that emotion.

I understand not wanting to glorify Booth. I get that. But this is history now. It happened almost 150 years ago. And Spielberg didn't think twice to show civil war soldiers being brutally murdered in the beginning of the film, why not show the murder at the end and DE-mystify it for all of us? And if his argument is that this film isn't about that, then why even show that part of his presidency at all??? Why not end the film with Lincoln still living... insinuating that his efforts and spirit still live on? This Jewish filmmaker can make a film about Oscar Schindler and show atrocities of monumental proportion... he can make a film called Saving Private Ryan and re define brutality, but he can't show the death of our most beloved President from Lincoln's perspective? - there may not have even been a holocaust if Lincoln had survived. So Steven, please don't give me the "we can't show that" line because you showed it a hundred times in Schindler's list and you won an Oscar for it.

It saddens me a great deal to write this review. I never would have dreamed that I would be giving Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" a 2 out of 10. My advice: Watch this film for a clinic on acting and cinematography- but wait for it on video. I might buy the DVD as a cure for insomnia.