Steven Spielberg’s latest venture in the all-star cast of the film ‘Lincoln’ is captivating, yet missed key components of history not often told in high school history books. I was able to view the movie Monday evening during a pre-screening in Boca Raton, Florida.
Daniel Day-Lewis performed perhaps his best in his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln and could evoke a nod at the Oscars. His performance was stunning and the realism under Spielberg’s direction made this movie very compelling. James Spader nearly stole the show in his performance as WN Bilbo, a Democratic political operative Lincoln’s Secretary of State hired to discretely bribe Democrats to vote for the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Sally Field plays Lincoln’s second wife, Mary Todd, who often plays the victim throughout the movie and is wrought with despair over the passing of one of their sons. Robert Todd Lincoln, one of President Lincoln’s sons, is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in his quest to make his own contribution to the Civil War even though Lincoln did his best to keep him from the realities of war. Thaddeus Stevens was well played by Tommy Lee Jones and Lincoln’s Secretary of State was played by David Strathairn. It was encouraging to see a film showing the fact Republicans were pushing to free the slaves while the Democrats were harshly against the measure.
Although the film does an excellent job showing viewers the nasty, often corrupt, inside workings of high level politics, it does not get into the fact Lincoln had numerous U.S. Senators and newspaper editors put in jail for opposing his views to ending the Civil War. There is a brief, obscure mention of Lincoln being called a tyrant by those in the Democratic Party at the time, however there is never an explanation as to why. The film does not cover Lincoln’s life before being elected President of the United States, however there is a quick reference to his days as the most powerful lobbyist in the country for the railroad barons though no reference to the $12 million railroad taxpayer funded debacle in Illinois.
The film’s budget was approximately $50 million and was filmed mostly in Chicago, Illinois and Petersburg, Virginia. Spielberg did an excellent job of budgeting as the film has the feel of a $100 million production with a great attention to detail for the time period. The film is rated PG-13 due to the heavy depictions of war and some gruesome scenes some parents may wish to shield from their children.
The film is expected in the theaters nationwide on November 16, 2012. The film is worth seeing and could cause many Americans to take another look at Lincoln and not fall prey to the legend and hopefully educate themselves on the full story of Abraham Lincoln.