Added to this is that the film is directed by Steven Spielberg – 7 noms, 2 wins for directing and 8 noms, 1 win for Best Picture; adapted from noted historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's book Team of Rivals by Tony Kushner – 2 noms; shot by Janusz Kaminski – 6 noms, 2 wins; edited by Michael Kahn – 8 noms, 3 wins; has production and set design by Rick Carter – 4 noms, 1 win, and Jim Erickson – 2 noms; a couple dozen combined nominations and several wins for the sound guys, and it is scored by John Williams, who has a total of 48 Oscar nominations and 5 wins on his resume. Put all of this together and the cast and crew of
have well over 100 Oscar nominations and over 20 Oscar wins among them. Lincoln
LtM mostly focuses on the political wrangling to get the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed in the month of January 1865, close to the end of the Civil War. This amendment would abolish slavery in the
. While United States had issued his Emancipation Proclamation a couple years earlier, it fell into a gray area in regards to whether it was legal for the President to do that. Because of this Lincoln wants to ensure that the end of slavery is embedded in the primary document in the land – the Constitution. His Cabinet and members of his Republican party are against him pushing for this because they feel they will lose the fight and it will tarnish the just re-elected President before he can even start his second term. Lincoln
There is much wheeling and dealing to get enough members of the opposition party – the Democrats – to vote for the Republican sponsored measure. Strong opposition comes in the form of Rep. Wood (Lee Pace); support, although of a questionable kind, comes from Rep. Stevens. It is questionable because he wants nothing less than full equality in everything for the freed slaves and this is something even many members of the Republican Party cannot tolerate.
needs every single vote from the Republicans in the House of Representatives, plus 20 more votes from Democrats for it to pass. If you don’t like politics with all the backroom deals and mudslinging that goes on, then a major portion of this film will not appeal to you. Lincoln
While all of this is going on Lincoln is also burdened with the upcoming attack on the last open port in the Confederacy; with his wife’s constant attacks on him for either not caring enough for her and their sons, for not telling her every state secret, and/or for not checking with her on every decision he makes; with his wife agitating political allies he needs to side with him to get the amendment passed; with his youngest son who wants a father’s attention; with his idiot of an oldest son (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who wants to save his honor by going and getting himself shot on the battlefield; by a mover and shaker who wants Lincoln to directly negotiate with the Confederacy for peace; and with daily duties that include audiences with ordinary citizens bringing their problems to him.
The fight over the amendment concludes with a vote (which I won’t spoil, but if you are American than you should damn well already know what the result was), but the film continues for another 20 minutes or so. Spielberg does take it up to the end of
’s life, something that I’m not sure the film needed. There’s a shot where Lincoln is walking down a long hallway in the White House to join his wife for the fateful evening in Ford’s Theater. He gets further and further away, fading away from us. To me, that would have been the best ending for the film, sort of a Gary Cooper in Pride of the Yankees shot. Lincoln
I can only speculate about how non-Americans will receive this film. I expect that most will have at least heard of
, know about how he died, and know that “he freed the slaves”. This film will give them a lot more of the man and how he worked with others, so non-Americans may actually find this film very interesting. One idiot on IMDB claimed that no non-American would like this movie because it was about an American president. I disagree with this. By the same “logic” no American should have been interested in The King’s Speech, which won the Best Picture Oscar just two years ago. Lincoln
As I said at the top, LtM is a good film, but it didn’t connect with me quite as much as I thought it would. I was not bored at all, but people who care nothing about the inner workings of how something gets passed in Congress may find stretches of this film hard to take. Overall, I would give it a “high 3” stars out of 5. If you have any interest in the man the film is about then I definitely recommend you give it a try.
Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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