I don't think there's anyone in the world who hasn't seen a Steven Speilberg movie and who also won't admit that he's one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. He's someone who has earned the right from Hollywood to make his passion projects like Schindler's List, Munich and Saving Private Ryan. He gets to make those because he also gives us the mega blockbusters like Jurassic Park, Jaws and the Indiana Jones movies. The amazing part is that whether he's making something that he makes for the money or makes for the message, they're both of the same quality almost consistently. In a career as illustrious as his I know what a strong statment it is to say that Lincoln is one of his finest films and I firmly stand by it.
For almost two decades, Speilberg has told reporters and friends that he's wanted to make a movie about his favorite president but he never found the time to do it. I'm thrilled that he eventually penciled it in because it's a movie that will be talked about and studied for years to come. It is as close to a moving piece of history as we may ever get. Now, those types of films that value historical accuracy over plot often are boring as hell, but almost every second of Lincoln is entertaining and wonderful to look at.
The film has one of the most impressive casts assembled in a while and boasts too many to name but it stars my man-cruch and all-time favorite actor Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood, The Gangs of New York), Sally Field (Forrest Gump, Stealing Magnolias) and Tommy Lee Jones (the Men in Black movies, The Fugitive), all three have won Oscars before and all three could win them again. Daniel Day-Lewis completely disapears in the movie from the opening scene on. He totally becomes Abraham Lincoln and transforms everything from his face, to his walk and that noteworthy voice (which is historically accurate). It is a performance that normally crowns a man's career but when that career belongs to Day-Lewis, there aren't enough crowns to hand out.
The film follows Lincoln in the last year of his life when he is trying to end the Civil War and pass the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery. Even though you know how it is, which (spoiler alert) is slavery being abolished and Lincoln getting shot, you hang on every word of the perfectly written script as if it's a heart-pounding courtroom drama. Yes it's true that minus one brief battle scene it's mostly scenes of men sitting in rooms talking, it's still entertaining and exciting. Humor exists in the right dosage and in the right moments. Marital drama explodes in scenes where Lincoln quarrels with his manically depressed wife, played by Field. Emotions run high as black people witness strangers fighting bitterly over their right to no longer be property. It's a perfectly crafted film and I can imagine that no one but Speilberg could have pulled it off so well.
The most amazing thing about Lincoln is how relevant it still is today. American policitcs is ugly and cheap and a chess game and apparently it's always been like that. It's very easy now to replace slavery with gay marriage or Lincoln with Barack Obama. No, the film doesn't have a political agenda and some would say it's blasphamy to compare the two Presidents, but given what I know about how Obama passed his healthcare reform and how Lincoln passed the end of slavery, and how vastly unpopular both were at the time; it is identical. Both are master statesmen that knew how to work the system to secure what they thought was best for the country. It's amazing to witness Lincoln's tactics and what they cost him and how he pulled it off.
I know it's not easy to convince people to see a movie that's almost three hours long knowing it's a historical drama that gives new meaning to the name "talkie;" but I assure you it's an entertaining movie above all. Speilberg knows one thing and it's what has made all of his films successful in one way or another...he understands how to appeal to the soul. Whether you're watching a dinosaur eat a car, a war horse run for its life, an alien say goodbye to a friend or a group of jews thanking the man who saved their lives, the running theme is entertainment. You may have different emotions evoked by each of his films but Lincoln does a great job of evoking them all. Lincoln (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: A+