Review of the Movie Lincoln…
As I’m sure you’re aware by now, critics absolutely love the movie Lincoln, released in November 2012. The vision of Steven Spielberg, a talented star-studded cast, and tumultuous times full of war and equality create the perfect basis for instant cinematic fame. But, the real question is, was it any good?
My family kind of procrastinated in watching this but finally wanted to see what it was all about. I was not quite sure what to expect when watching Lincoln. Sure, it was about the past president with a tall, black hat and his involvement with the abolishment of slavery. How would someone make a 2-hour box office hit about it? I have to say that everything was done extremely well. Since I’m not a history buff I can’t comment on the 100% accuracy of every detail in the movie, but I can tell you it will peak interest in history and the desire to learn more about this man and this time period.
Lincoln is somewhat of a documentary meets dramatic non-fiction type of film. There’s no real storyline or climactic ending to tie everything up. It focuses on the man, Abraham Lincoln, and the role he played in history and the effect he had on many ideals today. So, unless you watch this from a historical angle, it could be boring. This was Lincoln, not James Bond. I actually appreciated the fact that this was not created as a ‘crowd-pleaser’ but as a glorified re-enactment of a pivotal moment in time.
Daniel-Day Lewis truly drew you in and made you believe that was the exactly how Lincoln would have been – somewhat quiet, passionate about what he believed in, intuitive, personable, and even a bit awkward. It cracked me up when he would start telling an off-the-wall story of his past in the height of tense moments, disarming any drama that was arising. He also seemed very complex, hiding much of the anxiety and indecision he must have felt. This was the kind of guy you’d naturally feel comfortable with and maybe even look up to.
Sally Fields was all over the place, but in a good way. One of my favorite characters had to be the one played by Tommy Lee Jones. Every time he, as Thaddeus Stevens, popped up on screen my ears perked up, waiting to see how’d he put various ones in their place. The handful of expletives mostly came from him though so I couldn’t listen too closely to what he was saying all the time. These two gave the movie life and wittiness.
While the actors and costumes were fantastic, there were many times that I found myself lost among the political banter and opposing strategies in procuring votes. Plus, so much was happening with inner struggles of various characters that it was hard to fully grasp what was going on. There were times I kind of tuned out and, when it shifted to scenes in the House of Representatives, it boiled down to a lot of old men smoking and yelling, “Blah, blah, blah”. Sorry but it’s true.
There’s also the issue of violence. While the movie does not focus on much fighting, it does try to depict the horrors of the Civil War. There are times that we’re shown bits of the battlefield or the aftermath and these are realistically graphic. There’s one scene you know is coming (I even covered my daughter’s eyes since I had that ‘uh-oh’ feeling) but are still grossed out to actually see it. Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend seeing this on a full stomach. Let’s just say you shouldn’t expect beds of roses outside the hospital with several amputees.
This movie is most appropriate for middle- and high-schoolers. The intensity of the movie may be too much for younger ones and I wouldn’t really consider it a family flick. However, Lincoln is a quality film that deserves all the nominations and awards it has gotten. It’s intriguing and sparks interest for further research and open discussion. I haven’t been able to find any specific lesson plans based on the movie but you can download the free ebook listed on the official movie site for special content and images.
Lincoln is one of those movies what stand in a category by itself. So believe the hype and try to enjoy it for what it is, an entertaining look at history.