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Movie Details

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Directed By
Steven Spielberg

Written By:
Tony Kushner, Doris Kearns Goodwin

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, Joseph Cross, Jared Harris, Lee Pace, Peter McRobbie, Gulliver McGrath, Gloria Reuben, Jeremy Strong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Boris McGiver, David Costabile, Stephen Spinella, Walton Goggins, David Warshofsky, Colman Domingo, David Oyelowo, Lukas Haas, Dane DeHaan, Carlos Thompson, Bill Camp, Elizabeth Marvel, Byron Jennings, Julie White, Grainger Hines, Richard Topol, Dakin Matthews, Wayne Duvall, Bill Raymond, Michael Stanton Kennedy, Robert Peters, Richard Warner, Elijah Chester, Dave Hager, Gregory Itzin, Stephen Henderson, Adam Driver, Lancer Dean Shull, Kevin Kline, Christopher Evan Welch, Ted Johnson, Raynor Scheine, Teddy Eck, Joseph Carlson, Michael Goodwin, Christopher Boyer, Martin Dew, Joe Inscoe, S. Epatha Merkerson, Frank Moran, Charley Morgan, Barry Privett, Robert Shepherd, Kevin J. Walsh, Logan Bennett, Leon Addison Brown, David Foster, Lucas N. Hall, Jack Hoke, Adrian Nanney, Leigh Spofford, Stephen Szibler

Lincoln (2012)
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Movie Review by Sandra
February 17th, 2013

Masterful and deeply moving

Favorite Movie Quote: "No one can make an Englishman sh*t faster than George Washington."

What an engaging and beautiful film in every way! Daniel Day-Lewis is downright spooky as Lincoln. I believe he was born to play this role. My friend said that she thought he WAS Lincoln! Day-Lewis manages to capture Lincoln's very spirit—his intelligence, mannerisms, visage, limbs, even his gait. (Recall Lincoln's genetic disorder--Marfan's Syndrome). Day-Lewis clears every hurdle inherent in portraying a historical figure whose very profile many of us recognize. Tommy Lee Jones is extraordinary as Republican Congressman Thaddeus Stevens and David Strathairn amply delivers the goods as Secretary of State William Seward.

Spielberg has created a movie that will surely live on as the definitive film about Lincoln for so many reasons, not the least of which are superb storytelling, artistry, and beautiful use of language. Some may fidget a bit through the words, argument and political machinations that led to the passage of the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery and involuntary servitude, but I found the process, as portrayed in the film, to be thoroughly fascinating and quite relevant to modern times. In case we think that getting legislation passed today is a bear of our own invention, this film shows us otherwise. Manipulations, calculations and other such words aptly describe the process through time. Spielberg's film reminds us that the law—the moldy old law—is built on people's lives, pain, passion, and love. It may read a little boring, but it is born from the stuff life is made of.

The film opens with a terrible scene of hand-to-hand combat, and there are several other awful scenes that recall what the Civil War cost us and the great burden that Lincoln bore during his presidency. A somber Lincoln on horseback, shocked and saddened as he rides through a battlefield strewn with soldiers' bodies, is later told by Grant (Jared Harris) that he should not be surprised. Grant elegantly, and perhaps in a manner too pat, describes it as an "intimate" war. Indeed! Not unlike today's terrorism on the streets of foreign countries or in our own on 9/11.

Both sides confidently galloped into the Civil War, and what a shellacking they took! More deaths occurred during the Civil War than in all other American wars combined, including the Revolutionary War. The post-bellum GNP of one state (was it Mississippi?) was mainly comprised of artificial limbs. Perfectly dreadful! One scene involving Lincoln's grown son who was anxious to join Union forces brings this point home with memorable brevity, for which viewers can all be grateful.

We are, by the way, not directly exposed to Lincoln's famous speeches during this film. Instead, they are artfully woven into the story, as Lincoln's words are restated by soldiers who are thus inspired to carry on. I particularly liked this technique.

I would be remiss if I did not address Lincoln's arduous personal life, which the film beautifully renders. I appreciated seeing Mary Todd Lincoln as who she likely was—a grieving mother, not simply a mentally disturbed woman who added to Lincoln's burdens. (Sally Field plays this role well, but some feel she is miscast—too old to play the part of Mrs. Lincoln who was a decade younger than her husband). The Lincolns were at a party to support the war effort, as things were going badly for the Union, and their young son who was quite sick became even sicker. When they came home, the boy died in his mother's arms. How many of us could live with the fact that in our zeal to save the country, we failed to save our own child? Like Mrs. Lincoln, I think I'd be wandering the halls of the White House talking to myself, too.

Still, it looked like the Lincolns were going to recover. But they didn't get their chance, as we know. Lincoln was killed a year after the passage of the 13th Amendment and just days after the end of the Civil War. His was shot on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, and he died the next day. There is an evocative moment in the film where we see Lincoln sweetly leaving the White House for the last time, walking the hallway alone to the carriage that would take him to the theater and his death.

Why did Lincoln struggle with the 13th Amendment, and wasn't the Emancipation Proclamation enough to end the blight of slavery? Not really. President Lincoln and other Republicans were concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation, which in 1863 declared the freedom of slaves in ten Confederate states then in rebellion, would be seen as a temporary war measure, since it was based solely on Lincoln's war powers. The Proclamation did not free any slaves in the border states nor did it abolish slavery. Because of this, Lincoln and other supporters believed that an amendment to the Constitution was needed. And they got the job done! We should not forget the cost.

Do see this inspiring, soaring film of valor in the face of great adversity. Myself, I left the theater with a true appreciation for what others endured and did for us. At the very least, your trials will seem small by comparison!

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Feb 17, 2013 9:28 PM
also wrote a review of Lincoln
My mistake. I think Lincoln was shot on the 14th and died the next day.

Mike Thomas
Feb 17, 2013 11:15 PM
Great Review!

And you can go back and edit your review. Just click review this flick, the click it again, then go to the bottom of the page and click you'd like to edit your review.
Feb 18, 2013 1:08 AM
I did it. Thanks!

Feb 18, 2013 10:55 PM
Please don't get me wrong here. I'm not trying to run down or find fault with one of your presidents, or anything like that, but I am curious about something when it comes to this film's subject.

I've read Lincoln's bio on Wikipedia and there's quite a large section in it that pertains to the likelihood that Lincoln was bisexual. There appears to be some hard-based evidence that points to this possibility actually being true, but, of course, in a sense, it all does come down to mere speculation.

So, since this film is apparently striving for historical authenticity, I am wondering if there were any suggestions made in the story that Lincoln did, in fact, have bisexual leanings.

I think that I'm pretty certain of what you're going to tell me on this matter, but I thought I'd like to ask you, just the same. Please don't take any offense to my inquiry. All I am is curious, that's all.
Feb 18, 2013 11:19 PM
[comment deleted by Sandra]
Feb 18, 2013 11:22 PM
Oh gosh, Billybob, just because I waxed eloquent here on the Lincoln film doesn't mean I can't hear things such as you say. (But what's next? Are you going to tell me that George Washington was a cross-dresser? Hahaha)! The film said nothing about Lincoln's bisexuality, and I've never heard this about him, but it certainly is possible. Also, I think the film had its historical inaccuracies--something about the vote being off, if I recall. This was done for the sake of a better story. Also, Lincoln really is an icon, but he was also a pol. We can't forget that, in his zeal to work the room, so to speak, he wasn't always an outright abolitionist. In the end, though, he did sacrifice political capital to get the 13th Amendment passed. Like many of his day, I would imagine that he didn't want to see the country fall back into a hideously inhumane unconstitutional practice and an economic system based on unwilling servitude. Ultimately, he produced good outcomes and was willing to offer much to make them happen.
Feb 18, 2013 11:24 PM
I am going to have to look this up online now! News to me!
Feb 18, 2013 11:32 PM
Well, I looked online. Some say gay. I'm going to bet he was bi. Not a peep about this in the film, which essentially focused on the 13th Amendment and ending the Civil War. Maybe next film!
Feb 19, 2013 5:54 AM
George Washington as a cross-dresser!? Ha! The image that that conjures up to mind is really hilarious. Thanks for the laugh, Sandra.

Since I don't know you, I wasn't quite sure how sensitive you might be to an issue that some would say didn't shine a positive light on one of your country's most-beloved presidents. So I wanted to be cautious with the wording of my comments.

Thanks for telling me that I needn't have worried.

In my opinion - If Lincoln actually fathered children then he couldn't have possibly been totally gay. But I would be open to believe that there was some bisexual activity happening in his life.

I'm not surprised that none of this was brought up in the film. I personally think that it could've added some extra spice to the story, don't you?. But I could never see Spielberg (who I would bet was probably very aware of Lincoln's sexual tastes) taking that much of a risk with his film by including such a controversial topic, such as Lincoln's sexuality, which could very likely outrage a lot of people.

But, like you said - "Maybe next film!"

G'day to you!
Feb 19, 2013 8:56 PM
By the way, I wanted to thank you for being so kind in your approach to what can be a sensitive topic for some people. That is rare these days, and I do appreciate it!

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