Lincoln’ exceeds box-office expectations
You almost don’t have to see “Lincoln” to know it’s going to have Oscar awards coming its way. The movie is a historical drama directed by Steven Spielberg starring Daniel Day-Lewis, which automatically calls for a masterpiece, yet the film itself exceeds expectations. Though the “Great Emancipator” has been captured on-screen many times before, “Lincoln” stands out as a truly magnificent depiction of the 16th president. Frankly, the Academy Awards were created to honor productions like this.
The film begins in January 1865, and President Lincoln desperately wants to ratify the 13th Amendment. With the Civil War winding down and the South likely to rejoin the Union, Lincoln is pushing to legally end slavery before the returning southern politicians can block the law’s passage. However, most Democrats are adamantly against the amendment and even some of the president’s Republican allies are reluctant to support it. Lincoln must somehow get the votes or else risk never getting another chance to end slavery.
You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate “Lincoln.” Yes, the film is exceptional in its rendering of the time period, but its true brilliance lies in its capture of Lincoln, the human being. Any American schoolchild could recite a list of his political successes, but not much is said of his penchant for storytelling and humor. He mourned one dead son, clashed with another, and coped with his wife’s emotional problems. As the movie shows, Lincoln managed to do extraordinary things for his country, but he was really just an ordinary man with personal adversities of his own. Learning about this unknown side of an American icon elevates his accomplishments to an even greater respect.
Day-Lewis’ performance of the president is flawless; it is as if Lincoln himself is on camera. But beyond this uncanny portrayal, the famed method-actor conveys certain magic to the man. Sally Field shines as Mary Todd Lincoln, balancing the First Lady’s love for her family with the mental illness that threatens to tear them apart. Also wonderful is Tommy Lee Jones, who plays Thaddeus Stevens as a curmudgeon with a good heart. All are deserving of Oscars.
While “Lincoln” can be slow at times, it’s no dull history class. Rather, it is a spectacular film that any theatergoer should see.
The Setonian gives this movie 5 out of 5 stars.
Sean Quinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org