Spielberg's Lincoln does not disappoint

I've rarely been more aware than during Steven Spielberg's Lincoln that Abraham Lincoln was a plain-spoken, practical, down-to-earth man from the farmlands of Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. He had less than a year of formal education, and taught himself through his hungry reading of great books. I still recall from a childhood book the image of him taking a piece of charcoal and working out mathematics by writing on the back of a shovel.

Lincoln lacked social polish, but he had great intelligence and knowledge of human nature. The hallmark of the man, performed so powerfully by Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, is calm self-confidence, patience and a willingness to play politics in a realistic way. The film focuses on only a few months of Lincoln's life, including the passage of the 13th Amendment ending slavery, the surrender of the Confederacy and his assassination. Rarely has a film attended more carefully to the details of politics.

Lincoln believed slavery was immoral, but he also considered the 13th Amendment a masterstroke in cutting away the financial foundations of the Confederacy. In the film, the passage of the amendment is guided by William Seward (David Strathairn), his secretary of state, and by Rep. Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones), the most powerful abolitionist in the House. Neither these nor any other performances in the film depend on self-conscious histrionics; Jones in particular portrays a crafty codger with some secret hiding places in his heart..(READ FULL REVIEW)

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HELP! It's got John Williams music all through this masterpiece. :(

Spielberg is suffering Big Director disease. Not a frame--well, not a digit--of his work is to be touched by lowly mortals. The movie suffers for being too long and way overstated. Rigorous editing, shaving an hour of surplusage, would have greatly improved it. Ham handed dialog like "history will think I'm mad" never should have been written, but if written, then a good editor should have scissored it out. That said, it is worth sitting there for over two hours just to watch Daniel Day Lewis recreate a very human, plain, soft-spoken Lincoln. This is not the oversized Daniel Chester French statute of a Lincoln, not the greatness of grand gestures and soaring oratory but a convincing ordinary man, maybe slightly shrewder than most, a little broader of vision, whose real greatness is in his purpose.

"Lincoln believed slavery was immoral..."

Whatever, Ebert.

"I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."

-Lincoln, 1858