Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Rated PG-13 for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language
When Spielberg originally envisioned a movie about Lincoln, it was to be a huge biopic encompassing the life of the great man who would be portrayed by Liam Neeson. A lot changed though when playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner (Angels in America) got ahold of the project. Unable to narrow down the huge story of the life of Lincoln, he and Spielberg opted to just tell the story of the last few months of the Civil War and how Lincoln managed to get the 14th Amendment passed in Congress.
There are many things about this project which will make audiences flock to it. First off is the story. The events of the tale might be 150 years old, but they couldn’t be more relevant to today’s political climate. It seems our country has always been one in which the leaders bicker and fight over principals and values even though history will most undoubtedly show some of the principals and values to be not just antiquated, but immoral. Kushner’s screenplay is masterfully written and while the film comes in at almost 149 minutes, it seems that every minute is earned and the time flies by faster than you’d think.
Of course it helps having Spielberg at the helm. You can tell that this is a project that he cares deeply about and his heart and soul went into it. This is his finest film since 1998’s Saving Private Ryan and he is sure to get a lot of attention come awards season. To help him along here is the work by his long term collaborators cinematographer Janusz Kaminski and composer John Williams. The color palate Kaminski uses here which contrasts between subdued colors and harsh shadows gives the viewer the imminent sense of danger our country was in at that time. When combined with William’s remarkable score filled with beautiful piano driven melodies and lush brass choirs that perfectly matches the film’s feel and mood, you get a rich sense of texture that leads to a film filled with gorgeous art.
I think the thing that will most excite audiences though are the multitude of brilliant performances. People will justifiably be drawn by Daniel Day-Lewis as the commander in chief. His performance is perfect. Just like in Spielberg’s Jurassic Park where you just forget that you are watching visual effects rather than real dinosaurs, here you will forget that this is an actor and that somehow Abraham Lincoln has been brought to vibrant life. There’s no doubt that this will go down as one of the great performances in Hollywood history. Luckily the film also has a tremendous supporting cast including Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Hal Holbrook, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and James Spader. Everyone here is performing at such a high level, making the film seem that much more authentic. A