Lincoln Review

Lincoln Screenshot

It belongs to the ages

Steven Spielberg is a cinematic legend and his countless masterpieces have gripped audiences for over forty years. Whether it’s timeless children’s adventure films or visionary science fiction his productions have inspired countless filmmakers and conquered many genres. But the genre he is possibly most renowned for are historical epics. In the commemorative year of the emancipation proclamation Spielberg directs his biopic of President Abraham Lincoln.

The film follows the events after the passing of the emancipation proclamation where President Lincoln pushed for a thirteenth amendment to the United States constitution that would see slavery and involuntary servitude abolished. With the deathly Civil War providing a haunting backdrop, Spielberg demystifies the historical period by focussing on the political interworking of the sixteenth President’s cabinet, which were as central to this decision as the titled character.

Within his disciplined screenplay Tony Kushner draws information from historical documents to build a well rounded, but admittedly lengthy whole. The acclaimed playwright’s controlled narrative is sensitive, informed and thoroughly engaging. Lincoln is thriving with dialogue and every conversation, speech and monologue crackles with intensity.

On one hand Spielberg’s Lincoln is a taut procedural political thriller brimming with dramatic court room sequences, but it is also a deep character study that gets to the core of the beloved President. Spielberg balances the genres with ease presenting the fiery political war in synchronisation with the President’s pressure-affected personal life. The central character is deeply troubled; grieving after the death of his young son, alienated from his wife, worried about his son who wishes to enlist and constantly reminded of the American deaths under his rule.

Supported by historical records and meticulous research Daniel Day-Lewis supersedes embodiment and figuratively transforms into his central role as Abraham Lincoln. Not only does the remarkable talent match up physically to the iconic historical figure, but shapes his performance with a subtle and poetically textured voice that Lincoln was noted for. With the aid of Kushner’s screenplay Daniel Day Lewis’s moving performance is witty, engaging, charismatic, funny and occasionally fierce and like the President, he is able to captivate crowds with his words.

Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones headline a sublime ensemble support cast and there’s not a single poor performance, regardless of screen time. Even the briefest of appearances from incredibly talented actors, such as Jared Harris, Michael Stuhlbarg and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, supplement the narrative and expose Spielberg’s intention of showing the many personalities key to this significant period of history.

Within this sentimental, richly detailed and intellectual film, Spielberg offers up another stunning insight into history and a definitive representation of President Lincoln. Already among the most influential directors ever and still capable of providing iconic pieces of cinema, Steven Spielberg is definitely worthy of his own biopic.

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