November 22, 2013

Revisiting History: Spielberg's LINCOLN

Let's face it - there's no way you can make a truly honest movie about Abraham Lincoln. He is a figure whose myth far exceeds the truth....but last year's Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg, comes close - it feels authentic, and quite frankly, is an astonishingly good movie.

Based (in part) on Team of Rivals, the film never tries to be a comprehensive overview of Lincoln's life. In fact, it focuses on one particular moment in his Presidency - the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment - and manages to illuminate, focusing as much on Lincoln's political acumen as it does on the various thorny issues surrounding the ending of slavery.

Much of the film centers around Daniel Day Lewis' performance, which is as much informed by myth as historical fact. There's nothing overtly cagey or astute about Lincoln, yet you never quite avoid the belief that Lincoln is playing his cards close to the vest. This is about as close as you will come to 19th century "machine" style politics as possible - it's as much about the down-and-dirty games as it is about higher ideas.

(Plus, Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens....well, Spielberg should make a sequel focusing on Thaddeus Stevens and have Jones reprise his role. It's a no-brainer!)

In our current political climate, when we see high ideas brought down by cynicism and infighting, Lincoln is both an inspirational and down-to-earth story.

See this. Now.

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