Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A (Film) Look at Lincoln

It was about two years ago when I first learned that Steven Spielberg was going to make a film about Abraham Lincoln, my first thought was "Hell yeah I'm going to see that!" I mean my favorite Director and my favorite President, what's not to like about that combo?!
Before I go any farther I should point out that for me an important note about watching a movie is if you are still thinking about a film minutes, hours or even days later it must be good.

Lincoln with a screenplay by Tony Kushner based partly on Team of Rivals...by Doris Kearns Goodwin and as I said directed by Mr. Spielberg is perfectly shot and amazing to watch. The story takes place in January of 1865 and President Lincoln, knowing that he has a small window of time before the newly elected congress comes to session is desperate to end Slavery (and maybe the war) by passing the 13th Amendment. In order to do this he needs to convince his cabinet, lead by his Secretary of State William Seward, played by the brilliant David Strathairn, who argues and at times disagrees with The President but always stands by his side as they go up against the entire House of Representatives. Mr. Spielberg (without the help of The TARDIS) brings you into this little known part of Lincoln's Presidency and made me feel as if I was there and in the center of all the action. The scenes on the floor of Congress are intriguing and thrilling. Watching the debates between those who oppose the amendment, like New York Rep. Fernando Wood surprisingly played by Lee Pace and those For its passage, like Pennsylvania Rep. Thaddeus Stevens played by the wonderful Tommy Lee Jones is great fun. The bickering back and forth and the yelling between the parties made me wish congress would get a little rowdy now and days, (maybe more people would watch C-Span :). The FOR/YAY side gets a little help and a push to come to their individual decisions by three men who today we may call lobbyist played with humor by James Spader, John Hawkes and Jackie Earle Haley 

Mr.Spielberg may not have been able to pull off this major and incredible task if it weren't for his cast. I have already named a few of them but because he is after all the title character let me go deeper into the mind and soul of our nations 16th president.

Played by the always superb (at least that is what people say, until now I have to admit I hadn't watch one of his movies all the way through) Daniel Day-Lewis revives Abraham Lincoln in a way that had yet to be done. When studying The Civil War and Lincoln in school the President can become more of a legend then a once living man but this film shows a side of him that one rarely sees while reading his speeches. Each of the actors, with a "little" help from the Make-Up/Hair and Costume departments, seem to disappear and the characters come alive throughout the movie. This is none so more true then Daniel Day-Lewis. He is able to leave the myth behind and with even the smallest of details portrays the president's humanity through love, loyalty, compassion and a good knack for storytelling for his family, colleagues, and country.
The scenes between this man and his wife, Mary Todd, played perfectly by the magnificent Sally Field were personal and beautiful. Whether it was an argument about family or the war or a peaceful carriage ride you could really see that these two needed each other. One more character to mention their oldest son Robert is played by the awesome Joseph Gordon-Levitt

On a personal note I have had a crush on U.S.Grant before I even knew who he was and the scene between President Lincoln and General Grant sitting and leaning back in their chairs discussing how General Lee should be treated when he surrenders is priceless.

I was smiling and had my eyes glued to the big screen the entire 149 mins. By the time the ending credits were rolling I was proud to be a 19th century American and wanted to stand up and applaud for what I had just watched.

Abraham Lincoln-President, Husband, Father, Man. I didn't think it was possible for me to fall more in love with him.

I wanted to stay in the theater and watch it again.

I feel like I need and want to say so much more.

In the end for a true film watching experience go see...LINCOLN.

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