Monday, January 14, 2013


January 14. 2013

Ever since I saw the first poster of Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln", with the intense Daniel Day-Lewis in excellent Lincoln make-up, I immediately knew this would already be seriously in the running during the Oscar Awards. And this was confirmed recently when this film garnered Oscar nominations in 12 categories. This is really a must-see film.

This film was only about the political (and some personal) travails Lincoln experienced as he was trying to pass the 13th Amendment or the Emancipation Proclamation through Congress. This is not a biographical film at all as I was expecting. There were no scenes of his birth, childhood, education, rise in politics, etc. I felt this movie was deceptively titled. 

The technical aspects of this film were excellent as the cinematography, production design, costumes and make-up (not nominated!) were flawless. The color palette was muted to give it an authentic historical feel. Spielberg's obsessive attention to details and sentimentality, known from all his former films, was in full display here.

The acting was so perfectly attuned to the time period the actors were set in. Daniel Day Lewis IS Abraham Lincoln! He was amazingly real, I did not see him as acting as much as he was being Lincoln. I initially felt Sally Field was miscast, but she eventually redeemed herself in her effective portrayal of troubled Mary Todd Lincoln. Tommy Lee Jones as abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens had his big moment when he delivered a fiery speech against those opposing the amendment.

I think the main problem with this film was that it dealt with events which entailed showing people merely involved in a lot of long-winded conversations. The whole film was about 2 and a half hours long, and more than half of that time was just showing unknown politicians talking about their pro or con views about the proposed Amendment. Admittedly for non- Americans (and maybe some Americans too as I can read on some reviews here), these scenes will seem very dry, tedious and meaningless. 

I was disappointed that this was not exactly the biography of Abraham Lincoln that I thought it would be. So gone was the opportunity of comparing the real way Lincoln grew up from the version I learned from another Lincoln film released in 2012 where the good President was a Vampire Hunter. Ironic too that we also did not also see the assassination we all knew would happen. Spielberg decided to present that event in another way, which I'm sure disappointed many people, including me.


  1. I have seen Lincoln as Vampire Hunter and that was a good conjecture about the South's winning campaign during the civil war. Lincoln as vampire slayer did the trick to turn the tide of war in favor of the NOrth, which made emancipation of slaves possible and their eventual rise as a people.

    No wonder, Barack Obama picks Pres. Lincoln his favorite among the past presidents. He holds Lincoln in high esteem probably because somehow if not for Lincoln's bold and radical decisions he wont be where he is today.

    Spielberg decided to exclude the assassination of Lincoln maybe because he wanted to highlight his colorful and checkered life to be an inspiration to all rather than his tragic end that only spoils any memory of him. Spielberg can put anything to life back again, but extending that skill to Lincoln's death is way too much. Reliving that part is much like breathing life into a nightmare again.

  2. I still not watch this movie. However, based on your review it's not worth it to watch. Thanks.

  3. Reading through your pointers for this movie makes me not wanting to watch it no more - dry, tedious and meaningless. Although I'm a fan of the A. Lincoln movie as a vampire slaver. Thanks! ;)

  4. Lincoln being a vampire? The thought is very... uhmm... disappointing... but then I know media producers marketed this film so well.