DVD Release Date: February 2013 (estimated)
- 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
I waited months for the release of this film. To me, it was going to be another "Color Purple" another "Schindler's List" it was going to be epic, and it was going to be the return of Spielberg in a big way. I was spending a magical day in Los Angles with one of my best friends. We had toured museums and bummed around Amoeba Records, the perfect closing to a perfect day was going to view the film Lincoln at the majestic theater at the Grove. It was going to be a real movie experience the kind where the theatre is full of people, all packed in for the same reasons--to escape. The kind where at the end everyone would clap to show they were for those moments transported into another world, another way of thinking. I had built this experience up in my head and it couldn't fail. Spielberg was back!
The film begins well. It starts off strong and meaningful. Daniel Day Lewis could not have looked more like Lincoln, and I honestly think he deserves an academy for his performance. It was beautiful. The film begins with Lincoln meeting a few members of the black regiment. They have come to talk to him and show their respect and love. One of the more outspoken of the trio decides to confront the President with issues of rank and pay between the black soldiers and the white soldiers. Lincoln admires the man for his concerns. The scene closes with the men, joined by a few other white soldiers repeating The Gettysburg Address to the President. It is a very powerful opening to the film and it generally sets the tone for the movie.
The battle scenes were realistic enough and some were quite bloody. The pure carnage and savagery of war in this period was definitely communicated to audiences in the form of explosions and severed body parts. In the form of weeping mothers and angry fathers. Everyone was losing something, and this was a key element to the story. However, the question that boggled them then, as it boggled audiences was how much should be lost? How far do you go to protect human freedom. Lincoln proved that the price to be paid was blood, and there could never be enough of it to protect freedom.
Because I am a history major, it was almost essential that I saw this film. Having said that, I also must state that it was almost impossible for me not to find some fault with it. I did not like how Lincoln was portrayed as a saint, and the south as completely evil. You have to think about these things from a logical and historical perspective, especially when you are telling a story through film for the world to see. Lincoln was no great anti-slavery saint. He operated by the ideals of his time, like any man does. The things he did, were stratigic measures and influenced by all kinds of ideas, not all of them necessarily wholesome. The south, though I abhor slavery, was not evil. They were ignorant and brilliant all at the same time. What choice did the south have, but fight, when someone was threatening their sole way of life--their economy. The southern states were fighting for their livelihood and there isn't anything evil about that. In the grand scheme of it all, in the past and today we are all just people, reacting to the world in anyway we see how.
Another complaint I had about the film was the conclusion. In my opinion, Spielberg had the perfect opportunity to end the film 10 minutes earlier than it actually ended. It was at the point when his butler comes to inform him that he is late for the theatre and hands him his gloves. He says so poingently "Well, I guess it's time for me to go, but I'd really prefer to stay." Then he makes his way out of the White house, the moment is heart-wrenching because you know what is to follow. If the director would have ended it there I could be happy and call the film brilliant. But he did not. He choose to show the demise of this beloved President, and really just mucked up the ending. I knew my observations were right because at the end of the film, no one clapped. I wanted to clap, but not alone. So I sat in disbelief, and stared at my friend. We agreed that it should have ended earlier. We agreed that we would mourn this film because it could have been greatness.
Even so, I give the film 4 1/2 stars. It is worth watching, but I would just end it at that perfect moment, instead of waiting for the directors drawn out explanation of the past. I will say that it is one of the better historical films I have seen in the recent past and I look forward to more work from one of Hollywood's most beloved visionaries.
Did you see Lincoln?
What did you think?
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