It is rare that a historical film captures a moment in time so compelling that it receives universal critical acclaim, but the film Lincoln achieves just that with only a few caveats worth mentioning. Focusing on one of the most tumultuous periods of history in the United States, Lincoln is narratively centered on the president of the same name as well as the people and events around him.
While the film might mistakenly give the impression that it is focused solely on the president himself, this is not the case, and the man and the myth become one in what can only be called a meditative contemplation of what Lincoln symbolizes for the United States history and modern political culture.
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The Movie Review
For many people, Lincoln’s ability to not only overcome the trials of the Civil War but also provide a guiding light for future generations singles him out and places him among rarefied company such as that of Washington and FDR.
This film, as much as it is able to do so, portrays the legendary leader within the context of his own time period and amid the backdrop of his own personal and political life. It provides a complete view rarely offered in historical cinema and one that urges the reader to explore this period of history further.
Of course, when you look at the team behind it, none of this is a surprise. Directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, who has more than proven his acumen in this area with films such as Schindler’s List, Empire of the Sun, and Amistad, Lincoln does not sacrifice historical accuracy on the altar of entertainment but, instead, offers an encapsulated experience of what can only be termed a complex period in history.
Joined by a cast that never misses a beat, Spielberg deftly weaves drama and history together into a coherent whole that manages to distill the spirit of history itself without clouding it with a modern lens. In other words, the audience receives and experiences the film within its own context and, absent a modern reference, the viewer is better able to grasp the sheer magnitude of the task at hand for Abraham Lincoln as well as the enormity of the problems facing the country during and after the war.
While it is hard not to notice Sally Field or Daniel Day-Lewis for being the legendary players they are, they never overwhelm their character and, instead, embody the historical figures they portray to an uncanny degree.
With that said, it should be noted that the film cannot be taken as an entirely accurate portrayal of the events featured within it. For the purpose of narrative expediency, some complex issues are smoothed over and massive undertakings are sometimes attributed, whether explicitly to implicitly, to singular heroic individuals.
None of these inaccuracies add up to anything more than the need to make a film that does justice to the subject matter while also providing audiences with a gripping story to watch. Above all, the film is, as so many Spielberg films are, a deeply serious project that urges the viewer to ponder, explore, and carry the message of the film long after watching it.
- Amazingly acted and portrayed
- Accurate and timely
- A powerful exposition of history and narrative
- Simplification of historical events takes away from the complex nature of the history behind the film
- It is hard not to notice the actors behind the roles at times
- Elements of a political thriller seem odd given the tenor of the subject matter