Version: 2012; Daniel Day-Lewis; Tommy Lee Jones; Sally Fields; David Strathairn; Lee Pace; Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Genre: historical drama
Plot Summary: [from IMDb:] “As the Civil War continues to rage, America’s president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.”
My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not be comparing it to that work. Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.
I remember reading high praise for this movie when it first came out. Actually, I believe I had my eye on it when it was first announced it was in the making, and Daniel Day-Lewis was cast in the role of Abraham Lincoln. The similarities between their looks are amazing, but would the movie do history and the man himself justice?
Oh wow. I can’t begin to tell you about the amount of research that went into the creating of this film. I would love to know more about the ‘making of’ it. I do know that the actors and actresses really gave this one their all and went into full-depth character to accurately portray these historical people. Day-Lewis in particular researched Lincoln’s mannerisms, way of walking, speech, and voice in order to become him.
I am not so steeped in Civil War history as to know how many facts in this movie are correct, but I do know that it was inspired by the thoroughly researched book, “Team of Rivals,” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The author worked closely on the making of the film as well.
Acting is top-notch. I really felt as though I were viewing a fragment of my country’s history, and that felt exciting. Even though I knew how history played out, this movie caused me to doubt for a little bit what would happen. The behind-the-scenes politics of history made for a tense plot and kept me on the edge of my seat. In fact, it was so identifiable in this day and age and maybe that’s why I felt nervous for what would happen.
One drawback of the film is that many of the historical facts presented escaped me in one viewing. I will definitely need to rewatch it to glean more from it. Because of this, I felt somewhat confused and didn’t understand some of the plot structure.
However, I did learn a lot about the genius of Abraham Lincoln. I’ve always had the impression that he was so morally simple as to be sort of uninteresting. Not so! This man had a talent given to him by God that he used in the time and position he was placed in. He was an absolute chess-master at politics, but had a core of integrity that kept him straight and true. I believe watching this shed some light for me in deciding how to vote this past presidential election. It also caused me to love a person I’ve never met, and left to wonder why God would allow such a man who did so much good and suffered greatly for it, to die at the hands of an assassin so soon after victory was achieved.
My favorite scene is near the end, with the singing of “Battle Cry of Freedom.” It was so inspiring, and caused me to be grateful to God for His working in our country’s history. When’s the last time you felt excited about history?