Monday, December 10, 2012

Steven Spielberg's 'Lincoln'

Went to see this movie with friends yesterday afternoon.  Bottom line:  I loved it!  Caution:  It does contain some smatterings of salty language, including one instance of the f-word.  You kids don't need to see it.

Abraham Lincoln is played by Daniel Day-Lewis, who ought to win an Academy Award for his performance.  Sally Fields puts in a solid performance as Mary Todd Lincoln.  (This surprised me, maybe because I still remember her as "The Flying Nun".).  The other main supporting actors are also outstanding. 

The film packs a powerful emotional punch, which also surprises me, given that it is primarily about back-room politics.  Specifically it is largely about the effort to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery in the United States.  The huge importance of this is part of what makes the movie so engaging.  You feel you are getting an insider's glimpse of history in the making.

One service the movie did for me was to disabuse me of my naive notion that in politics there are bad guys, who are corrupt, and good guys, who are not.  In this portrayal, at least, which I believe accords with the historical record, the good guys aren't above corruption, either, viewing the end as justifying the means.  And the bad guys also do the occasional good thing, albeit for corrupt motives. 

Whatever your opinion of President Lincoln, whether you view him as a hero or a dictatorial, undemocratic figure, this film will provide support for your point of view.  I like that nuancing, that raising of questions we still ask, and the demonstration that the answers are not simple.  He used highly unAmerican means to end slavery, end the War, and put back together the Union.

And of course, as a period piece, this movie probably had me hooked from the beginning,  because the Civil War is one of my special interests.  That's the War Between the States, for my local audience.  Oops, no, around here it's The War of Northern Aggression.  :-)


Anam Cara said...

Or, as my aunts called it, "The Recent Unpleasantness.". (My grandfather was born in 1861, and his sister, who was born in 1865, lived until 1969, dying when I was 18).

Back to the movie: I loved the story about the portrait of Geo. Washington!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Wow! That makes her, um, let's see, she would have been 104?!!

Matushka Anna said...

Oh my goodness yes, "the War of Northern Aggression". My grandparents and great uncles and aunts would not tolerate "Civil War" because they said it was anything but civil. (c;

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Yup. I can still hear my high school teacher of American History saying, There was nothing civil about it!"

And her other favorite: "Always ruhmembuh, Vuhginia is a SUTHUN stite!"

(We found one another quite challenging... In the end, though, she was the only high school teacher I found, in adulthood, and went back to thank.)

Anam Cara said...

That's right. She was 104 when she died. I learned history of Reconstruction sitting (literally) at her knee.