'Lincoln' does better in theaters this time around
Published: Monday, November 26, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 16:08
“Lincoln” is unquestionably director Steven Spielberg’s best film since 1998’s “Saving Private Ryan.”
Wisely, rather than creating an all encompassing biopic of the entire life of Abraham Lincoln, Spielberg has chosen to focus on a time of particular importance for President Lincoln and indeed, for all of America. “Lincoln” focuses on the final months of the President’s life, centering on the President’s struggle to pass the 13th Amendment, freeing the slaves, while the Civil War nears its end.
The film shows, most importantly, that despite the noble intentions of Lincoln to pass the amendment freeing the slaves, it took nothing short of classic political bribery and a bit of rule bending by the President to get the tough things done, at times, against the better wishes of members of his own political party. Paraphrasing Senator Thaddeus Stevens “It took a fair democratic process, bolstered by noble bribery and corruption, and spearheaded by the manipulation of the most noble man in America to see it (the 13th amendment) passed.”
“Lincoln’s”’ performances have “Oscar” written all over them. Sally Field portrays Lincoln’s infamously insane wife Mary Todd with precision, not making her out as an outright maniac, but rather as a grieving person constantly filled with regret and paranoia.
Tommy Lee Jones also delivers a admirable performance as fervent abolitionist, Sen. Stevens. An old and tired man, Jones portrays a tough as nails man whose loyalty commitment to his principals is nothing short of astounding.
However it’s Daniel Day Lewis’s performance as Abraham Lincoln himself that steals the show. Whether it be his deflection of arguments by way of humor, his tired burdened expressions attributed to his wife and eldest son Robert (Joseph Gordon Levitt) who intends on enlisting in the Union Army or his ability to silence a room when his patience has reached an impasse, Lewis provides a phenomenal performance. If anything, Lewis also shows that, above all, Abe was a simple man of the people. Other than Spielberg himself, Lewis brings such believability to “Lincoln” that the picture thrives on it.
What makes Lincoln so enchanting, besides being arguably one of the most realistic depictions of the President since the Walt Disney Animatronic Show “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, is its humility. Here you will not find a boasting, flag waving propaganda film that attempts to put the iconic leader high up on a pedestal. Rather, the film serves as a touching reminder that Lincoln was a noble, soft spoken, and self taught man whose greatness and enduring popularity long after his death is due to his own personal humility and enduring vigor during the difficult conflicts he presided over. Truly one of the people, “Lincoln” tells an American story if ever there was one.
As far as flaws go, it must be noted that the opening of the film takes quite a while to get going, but as the film treads on, the film becomes much more engrossing.
The only question that remained in my consciousness as the credits rolled by was, “How did it take Hollywood this long to make this film?” Whatever the answer, rest assured the wait was well worth it. Another treasure in the collection of the master director.
As far as the film’s musical score is concerned, the pieces contained within cannot be described in any terms other than flawless. John Williams has once again provided the music for a Spielberg film. Marking the 26th collaboration between the master and the maestro, “Lincoln’s” score stands as a fantastic achievement, and per usual for a John Williams score, “Lincoln’s” will most likely receive the Oscar nod it rightfully deserves. The music provides the perfect accompaniment to a soft spoken kind president, faced with unimaginable burdens.