Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Originally Posted: 17 November 2012

IMDB: 7.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Roger Ebert: 4/4 Stars

Star: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Strathairn, Tommy Lee Jones.
Director: Stephen Spielberg
Writer: Tony Kushner

Release Date: 16 November 2012
Described by IMDB as: "
In 1865, as the American Civil War winds inexorably toward conclusion, U.S. president Abraham Lincoln endeavors to achieve passage of the landmark constitutional amendment which will forever ban slavery from the United States. However, his task is a race against time, for peace may come at any time, and if it comes before the amendment is passed, the returning southern states will stop it before it can become law. Lincoln must, by almost any means possible, obtain enough votes from a recalcitrant Congress before peace arrives and it is too late. Yet the president is torn, as an early peace would save thousands of lives. As the nation confronts its conscience over the freedom of its entire population, Lincoln faces his own crisis of conscience -- end slavery or end the war."

I find it quite hard to review films like this. I like to refer to them as "Oscar films" even though the nominations obviously have not yet been released. These are films that without doubt, will definitely be nominated for oscars based on their actors, directors, and general themes. Since all of these categories are covered far and beyond with Daniel Day-LewisSteven Spielberg, and Abraham Lincoln, this film is not only an "Oscar film", but probably one of the top contenders for winning best picture. Unfortunately, the difficult part in reviewing these films is the fact that there are many parts that are, for lack of a better word, dull. 

Now, don't let this deter you from watching this film, as it was a fantastic film, and displays a very important part in history. I found it hard not to see clear parallels between the 1865 fight to abolish slavery, and the current day fight in America for equal rights for gay lesbian people. I will never understand how people could be so hateful that they feel people shouldn't have equal rights. I felt myself quite enraged through some parts of this film, when talking about how all men are not created equal. How dare someone presume that they have the authority to decide that.

I have to say almost the entire first half of the film was so, so dull. Now, I totally understand how important it was to set up the second half, but that doesn't make it any less, well, boring. But the second half definitely made up for it. Its not one of those films with crazy thrill and excitement, but when the 13th Amendment passed I have to say I just wanted to stand up and cheer as the people on the screen were doing. I definitely teared up a little bit when that happened, as I'm sure anyone with a heart would have. Its astonishing that slavery was abolished almost 150 years ago, and yet slavery still persists. I thought it was great timing to release this film, right after the election. I think its a great film to reignite patriotism among Americans in a time that they are incredibly divided.

I'm not even sure how to begin on how fantastic Daniel Day-Lewis was in this film, but lets be honest,  could we expect anything less? He has to be one of the greatest character actors of our generation, possible even of all time. Whenever I see his name in the titles I almost know for sure that I'm going to enjoy it. I couldn't believe how much he resembled Abraham Lincoln in this film. Unbelievable. Makeup should definitely get an Oscar nod for that one. The cast list in this film is pretty incredible. Mrs. Lincoln is played by Sally Field, their child Robert Lincoln is played by none other then Joseph Gordon Levitt. There were numerous other cameos by great actors as well, most of them only for a few moments really, I guess everyone wanted in a big film like this, even if it was just a small part. 
I really liked Tommy Lee Jones' storyline. I loved his pure enthusiasm and hope for the Amendment to pass, I won't give any spoilers, but his part at the end added a little extra to my heart.

I have to say that I didn't know anything about the timeline of these evenets, but I was pretty shocked by how quickly the whole thing happened. I mean, obviously the war went on much longer then what was in this film. I didn't realize that the amendment was passed on January 31st 1865, then the war was ended in the beginning of April and Lincoln was killed on April the 15th. I really didn't realize three of those things were so close together. 

Overall I really liked this film, unfortunately I'm going to have to take off a few points for the beginning, but I couldn't give it a low score because it really was an amazing piece of work. I went with a friend who said it could have ended earlier, but I think it was important to show both the ending of the Civil War, and Lincoln's death.

I'm going to give it an 8/10. Solid film, definitely expecting big things at the Oscars.

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