In 1865 the American Civil War is heading towards its conclusion. President Abraham Lincoln aims to make a landmark constitutional amendment to abolish slavery. Lincoln faces a race against time to obtain the necessary votes before peace is declared and he loses the opportunity to end slavery forever…
Director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner tell an absorbing story with Lincoln. The film is a good history lesson for those with little knowledge of the period or the title figure. The complexity of the issue and the varying divisions are rendered digestible. Although the focus is placed on the president and his motivations, there is at least a little space allotted to why some politicians may have been reluctant to vote yes.
There is a sense of gravitas that permeates the entire film. This is enabled by Spielberg’s directorial flair and John Williams’ grandiose score. The film undoubtedly focuses on a serious issue. Nevertheless, this dies not mean that it is without humour and warmth. Despite the overall sombre tone, there are moments of lightness.
Despite the wartime setting, there is little action in Lincoln. Spielberg chooses instead to concentrate on the political sphere. The war scenes that do feature are portrayed with the requisite violence. The film does not shy away from depicting the consequences of Lincoln’s ambitions.
Daniel Day Lewis is as superb as ever as Abraham Lincoln. He is supported by a strong cast that includes Sally Field as Mary Tood Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens. Jared Harris and James Spader also stand out among the supporting cast.
Steven Spielberg tackles an important person and event with the substance they deserve. Lincoln is worthy of its numerous nominations.