My Review of Lincoln
April 22, 2013 2 Comments
There’s probably not a person over sixteen alive today living in America that hasn’t seen a Steven Spielberg movie.
Unless they’re Amish.
Still. I always say, “We can all use a little more Spielberg in our lives.”
Alright, alright, so he messed up with the snore-fest War Horse (I still don’t know what it was about!). And maybe The Lost World didn’t come close to living up to its predecessor – but no one’s perfect, right?
I mean, I’m not a perfect husband; I’ve snapped at my wife a time or two.
Pixar made Cars 2
Congress voted in favor of Obamacare. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
Anyway, all that to say, that Lincoln, though not meant to be watched for entertainment value, is far from being a mistake.
I think Spielberg actually did a masterful job, not at creating a blockbuster or a compelling story-on-film, but a rich, well-informed, educational, and (mostly) accurate documentary of the efforts to pass the 13th amendment.
Be sure, this film is not about the Civil War, nor did I feel like it was really about our sixteenth president. The film focused mainly on the collective efforts of the Republicans to persuade the House of Representatives to pass Lincoln’s proposed amendment, not necessarily for the purposes of freeing the slaves (though that was a sparkling side-effect), but to end the war on the terms of unification of the nation.
Abraham Lincoln was undoubtably one of the greats. I loved how Spielberg highlighted his political genius, and the great efforts and strains he endured to have his pure resolve brought to fruition.
Sarabeth and I were both tense leading up to the assassination, (btw, spoilers ahead) but we were relieved that it was not shown. It honestly would have been too traumatic for any patriot to see – even replicated – on screen. I think it was very honorable that Spielberg spared the audience such images, as I’m sure he knew it could draw criticism from the rougher audiences.
Passing over the assassination was akin to Oliver Stone purposefully choosing not to show the planes crashing into the towers in his film World Trade Center, diverting attention from the praise-seeking sadists.
I will say, if you want to learn more about the historical assassination, and how Booth suffered miserably in his last days, you really need to pick up the book Manhunt by Swanson. (It’ll also give you an idea of what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev went through last week in Massachusetts.) Even then, in written form, Lincoln’s untimely death brought me to near tears.
“Should we buy it?” is a question often asked in our house after we watch a rental.
My answer: “It’s nothing I would look forward to watching again in a hurry. But I think it’s worth having on hand to show our kids when they’re studying about him in school.”
Keep the cameras rolling, Mr. Spielberg.