Boasting the name of Daniel Day-Lewis as one of the most iconic presidents in U.S. history and directed by Steven Spielberg Lincoln was the kind of movie that was a big Oscar-movie even before it garnered 12 nominations.
Not as dreadful as I feared
A super high profile movie like this very easily rings my “King’s Speech alarm” meaning that it might be one of those movies where technically you can’t really fault it for much but eventually wind up thinking that there wasn’t really much to take home.
But Lincoln managed to entertain and overcome my simple minded prejudice. Probably due to the fact that the movie focused on the bare essentials and didn’t waste much time on backstory of Lincoln.
There is never a moment in Lincoln where we see teenage Lincoln getting a cylinder handed by a black slave and vowing to free the little slave boy – instead we jump right into the time when Lincoln was working on passing through the 13th amendment to abolish slavery.
The tricky and interesting part of the movie is that the civil war is going on in the background and Lincoln knows that he won’t be able to pass the amendment if the war is over and the southern states are able to vote against the amendment.
So the president is facing the tough question what is more important: ending the war as soon as possible and saving soldiers or freeing the slaves.
Men at tables
Just from the description Lincoln one can see that Lincoln is a pretty talky movie. Meaning characters will travel to different places to have meetings and talk about votes, change places to talk at other meetings about other voters, change places to meet said voters and at the end have a huge meeting where the voters vote…
But it is not as boring as it sounds. Mostly due to Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance. Day-Lewis is an actor where praising might get repetitive after a while as there are few actors who so constantly deliver extraordinary performances. But every time you watch a movie featuring him you remember what a great actor can do. You will never see Day-Lewis, only Lincoln – and even this sentence sounds like a repetition of so many other reviews of this movie but it doesn’t render the statement any less than accurate. And when Day-Lewis will collect his third Oscar on Sunday it won’t be for nothing.
But aside from this performance Lincoln features a lot of interesting ideas. Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) and Lincoln are part in one of the bigger conflicts about integrity vs. compromise and aside from that Spielberg’s drama finds many ways to make the story interesting enough. Especially for historically ignorant people like myself the movie fills my head with enough pseudo-history that I can act as if I knew American history (although my shortcomings in history were revealed early on when I was surprised that Lincoln was member of the Republican Party).
A few months have passed since I saw the screening of Lincoln and I am very grateful that I did catch this movie before the big Oscar time. For now the movie has settled and I have referenced it a good amount of time. Especially watching other Biopics or historical adaptions highlights how skillfully Spielberg and Day-Lewis have made this movie about congress meetings interesting and entertaining.