Last updated on November 15th, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Lincoln Movie Review

lincoln

Having been to an early preview, here is our Lincoln review. Make sure you’ve packed a bag full of sweets, you’ve got a decent sized beverage and you’ve used the facilities because you’re in for a long ride! Lincoln comes in at 150 minutes long, joining the ranks of many other ridiculously long films released in the past 12 months. As long as it is though, you won’t want to leave to top up your soda or empty you bladder because it really is that good.

Having been to an early preview, here is our Lincoln review. Make sure you’ve packed a bag full of sweets, you’ve got a decent sized beverage and you’ve used the facilities because you’re in for a long ride! Lincoln comes in at 150 minutes long, joining the ranks of many other ridiculously long films released in the past 12 months. As long as it is though, you won’t want to leave to top up your soda or empty you bladder because it really is that good.

Lincoln is a wonderfully profound insight into the political machinations that were undertaken to outlaw slavery in the United States, rather than perhaps a full-scale biopic of the greatest American President. The film is set in the last year of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, 1865, with the American Civil War looking like its heading towards its conclusion. Whilst most would think to focus on the war itself, and might expect some brutally realistic war scenes which we have come to associate with Spielberg, instead the halls of DC are the real battleground. Based on Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, a politically slanted biography of the President, we are given a wonderful look at all the ways in which Lincoln battled to banish slavery. Having taken the time to read the book myself, I thought the extrapolation of a screenplay and the way it is put together from the source material and historic accounts is very good.

There is an awful lot that contributes in making Lincoln perhaps the greatest film of the year and a shoe in for a whole host of trophies at the upcoming 2013 Academy Awards. Best Picture, Best Actor (Daniel Day Lewis), Best Supporting Actor (Tommy Lee Jones), Best Supporting Actress (Sally Field), Best Director (Spielberg), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Production Design and Best Sound Mixing round out all of the nominations. It is often the case that the awards will surprise, and shrink away from rewarding those with the most nominations, and yet if that were to happen this year I think it would be a travesty. The acting from Daniel Day Lewis has, quite rightly, grabbed the majority of the headlines.

Nobody has been awarded 3 Best Actor Oscars, so if Day Lewis walks away with the figurine in his hand, does that make him the best actor of all time? That is a whole other point for discussion, but in many peoples’ eyes, it most certainly will be the case. Much is often made of his method acting style, and once again, he undertook his ridiculous levels of preparation, taking a whole year out to get in to character. During this time he reportedly read 100 books on the man, worked on perfecting his gait and high-pitched voice and spent more time in make-up than the entire cast of TOWIE do in a year. Rather than looking like one of those trollish, trumped-up tarts, he comes out looking exactly as you would have expected, a true masterpiece of prosthetics. Combining this wonderful look and the fact that he never breaks character, I can only assume him wandering around the set between shoots would have been marvellous to watch! His ability to play the measured politician as well as the fiercely impassioned man determined to pass his amendment and outlaw slavery, really makes this film great and should really be seen to be believed for how good it is. Of course, to say that he is the only person on screen would do a disservice to his fellow cast.

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Supporting Day Lewis is the incredibly acerbic and witty Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens. Stevens role in history is not as forthright as Lincoln’s, but passing the 13th amendment could not have been done without him. In this film he gets his credence, and the casting of Tommy Lee Jones seems fairly inspired as he has been prepared to drop a lot of the attitude and bask in the shadows here. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the flavour of the year it seems, also does well as Robert Lincoln, although perhaps doesn’t get enough of the limelight. However, the real second star of the movie is First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, played by Sally Field. Her beautifully complex and emotional state is portrayed with real vigour, yet she appears remarkably fragile as a grieving mother at the same time. Whilst many would consider hers an Oscar worthy performance for a supporting actress, the competition this year is ridiculously tight.

Not everybody would agree that Lincoln does the real history justice. It would be typical for some historians to stick their noses in and say that far too much of the wording of the 13th amendment has been made, or that perhaps the roles of certain individuals are over/under played. Or even, perhaps, that there are costume errors or that the skyline isn’t right for the time of year… These people should really just accept that no movie will ever be 100% accurate from a historical point of view, and really just be thankful that this medium is used here to help in education as much as in entertainment. Having said that, if history really isn’t your thing, and you didn’t even enjoy it when your teacher put on a TV episode or movie because they were feeling lazy, then this won’t be for you. Another criticism of Lincoln would be that, through Spielberg’s attention to detail, it ends up as a very slow moving film. Not only does this attention to detail result in a slow moving film, it perhaps helps to mask the distinct lack of flair that we are used to from Spielberg epics – all the debate, all the stories and the political discussion only serve to point this out. The only reason the film still works so well is due to the fantastic cast propping it up, and lesser actors would end up leaving you yawning about half-way through.

Interestingly, through this elongated history lesson, that we learn of how amazingly similar the political system of the past is to the present. If anything, with the dealing around the US fiscal cliff going on, it is a testament to great politicising and about making to ends meet in the middle, even when they at first seem so ideologically opposed. If you are a fan of wonderfully put together films, absolutely top quality acting, attention to detail, great writing and beautiful music (John Williams at it again), then you absolutely must see this film.

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