Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field
November 16, 2012
20th Century Fox
2 hours 26 minutes
Something that some people might not know about Steven Spielberg's latest film 'Lincoln' is that this film has been in the works for over a decade. Different studios have been involved, different actors were up for the role of the 16th president, and other problems caused this film to be in the mere development stages for a while. Now the film is here, however, and I must say it was well worth the wait. I did an experiment on this film where I avoided all bits of footage from the film, including trailers and commercials, in order to go into the movie with a blank slate. Having seen the film itself, I am happy to report that my neglect of footage from the movie was worth doing, because what 'Lincoln' delivers is a powerful, compelling, and often funny look into the story of a man who happened to have been the 16th President of the United States.
It is January in 1865, and the Civil War is still going on, with blood and carnage spilled every day. President Abraham Lincoln wants to end this war, and he feels that the only way to succeed at doing that is to get Congress to pass the 13th amendment, which would abolish slavery and treat African Americans as equal individuals rather than pieces of trash. The thing about that is that many Americans are still prejudice and racist towards black people, and they care about that more than ending a war that's killing the fathers and brothers of families. Struggling with family problems of his own, President Lincoln must try to restore balance in the people, end the war that's tearing a nation, and find a way to keep his son from going off to war.
If there's a reason to praise the acting in this movie, it's for the performances from Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones. It has been said that Abraham Lincoln did in fact have a high voice similar to what Day-Lewis brings to his performance as the 16th president. Personally I didn't have a problem with his voice at all, and even if I did that wouldn't have changed my feelings on his award worthy performance. Lewis brings a human side to President Lincoln, making him funny when necessary, charming throughout, and a man with a desire to make his vision become a reality. Of all the performances I've seen this year, this is the one performance where the actor took full control and made me believe that he was who he was portraying rather than me thinking "this is Daniel Day-Lewis playing Abraham Lincoln." It would be shocking if Lewis wasn't nominated for Best Actor at least. I can't say whether or not he deserves to win since I haven't seen all of the other Best Actor candidates, but what he brings to this role shows what real actors can pull off if they try hard. Equally as great in the film is Tommy Lee Jones' performance as Thaddeus Stevens.
The character of Stevens is shown to be a supporter of the 13th amendment because he believes in equal rights for African-Americans. Normally this would just be a performance with no conflict or emotion, Jones brings a lot of charisma and wit to his character. Not only is he hilarious in the film, but Stevens also owns in the courts and actually puts up a good fight for what he believes in. Again, I haven't seen all of the Supporting Actor performances this year yet, but if Disney can make a strong enough campaign, I think Jones can take it all this awards season. While the rest of the cast, including Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and James Spader, are all great in the film, the real reason to talk about the performances in 'Lincoln' is because of Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones.
Screenwriter Tony Kushner has done one other screenplay, and that was the 2005 Spielberg historical drama 'Munich,' which he co-wrote with famed screenwriter Eric Roth. Not only does this film accurately portray what struggles Abraham Lincoln went through in order to get the 13th amendment signed, but it also shows the president as a genuine human. There are some hilarious moments in the movie, as well as some brilliant stories told by our late president, in which all of them are rather entertaining to listen to. Even when some parts are slower than other moments in the movie, the superb acting and the great script help keep the audience entertained and paying attention. Kushner has written a movie that can be more entertaining and enjoyable for people of all ages rather than a boring old history lesson where we, the students, have tow jot down notes from Power Point presentations.
The greatest thing to say about 'Lincoln' is that this like other Spielberg movies, yet it feels right at home in there. The direction by the famed director is superb, and the cinematography by longtime partner Janzuez Kaminski, while mostly unnoticable, is stunning to look at. Even the score by John Williams, as subtle as it is, is fantastic. This is a movie that has everything someone could ask for in a historical movie: superb acting from all, a great script from a talented screenwriter, and the ability to keep one's attention even when it's slow. Having spoken to people my own age who have seen this movie, I can tell that this is a movie that will be shown in history classes for the rest of time. 'Lincoln' is a great film overall, which is the simplest thing to say about it. It is entertaining throughout, plus gives a great history lesson for all ages. This is, without a doubt, one of the year's best movies, and will go down as one of the highlights of Steven Spielberg's career.
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