Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln

Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

As our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln faced a nation divided. Divided by both color and beliefs. He wanted change and fought to make it happen. Lincoln, determined to succeed, made choices that wore at his bones and brought him to his knees. He knew that his choices would change a nation. Our nation. His choice would impact generations upon generations of Americans.

The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.

Daniel Day-Lewis

Steven Spielberg directs Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role of “Lincoln.” A remarkable resemblance of our 16th President, Daniel Day-Lewis is incredible to watch from beginning to end. Based on the research of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Lincoln goes beyond telling the story of the President’s final months in office. We learn about the man underneath the iconic top hat and behind the famed beard. Not just as a President, but as both a husband and a father. And Day-Lewis amazingly encapsulates the man we have come to perceive as our 16th President.

Lincoln guided our country through its worst moments and allowed the ideals of American democracy to survive and assured the end of slavery. But I also wanted to make a film that would show how multifaceted Lincoln was. He was a statesman, a military leader, but also a father, a husband and a man who was always, continuously looking deep inside himself. I wanted to tell a story about Lincoln that would avoid the mistakes of both cynicism and hero worship and be true to the vastness of who he was and the intimacy of his life and the softer angles of his nature. ~Steven Spielberg

Diving into her character, Sally Field, as Mary Todd Lincoln, gives an outstanding performance as the First Lady. Said to have married Lincoln because she knew he would become President one day, Mary Todd Lincoln was often criticized for her spending and outspoken attitude. Sally Fields brilliantly brings the character to life and fills each scene with an intense onslaught of emotion. As the First Lady she does not hold back and is strong in her convictions knowing her position. Seeing the human side of her marriage to the President is revealing and raw… making them both appear to be normal people in an average marriage.

Sally Field

Supported by a full line of powerful actors, Daniel-Day Lewis embodies his role with an incredible Oscar-worthy performance. His online chemistry with Sally Field produces a feeling of sincerity in the relationship between the President and his wife. Davis Strathairn, who plays Lincoln’s Secretary of State, brilliantly portrays the loyal supporter and friend that William Henry Seward became in Lincoln’s life. Watching the friendship develop over the months as they fight to get the 13th Amendment passed, you are able to understand and adore the affection Seward came to have for Lincoln. Strathairn depicts this well as he goes to impeccable lengths to both protect and aid his President.

Hal Holbrook, John Hawkes, James Spader and Tim Blake Nelson are additional men who help capture both the turmoil and passion Lincoln encountered during his plight. James Spader, who plays W. N. Bilbo, brings an unexpected humor to the film and also introduces a different energy into the movie. But, for me, the most unexpected character was Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, a Pennsylvania representative.

Tommy Lee Jones

With ulterior motives that perhaps no one would ever fully understand, Thaddeus Stevens had a personal connection to the 13th amendment. But, he also felt a lost disconnect with the President who was also a member of his own party. Fighting both against each other and for one another, Lincoln and Stevens struggle to work together for the good of the cause. The character involvement is believable and Tommy Lee Jones does an astounding job in his role.

Lee Pace and Walton Giggins round out other key characters in the movie. Both represent the opposing factions Lincoln faced as he began to lobby for the Amendment. As the movie plays, you will come to dislike one and love the other.

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

And finally, Lincoln’s two remaining sons are played by Joseph Gordon‐Levitt and Gulliver McGrath. Still grieving the loss of his son Willie, the relationships between Lincoln and his sons draws you in and pleads for emotion. Not to be bothered by one, the other envelopes Lincoln’s every spare moment. Still mourning the one he lost, Lincoln battles within himself to let his oldest son fight in the battle he is trying so desperately to end. Head strong and determined, Robert (Joseph Gordon‐Levitt) forms his own opinions and decisions and we see Lincoln become a father in the tough times we all dread as parents.

Joseph Gordon‐Levitt

Yet, in contrast, Tad (Gulliver McGrath) runs through the halls of the White House with an air of play and mischief about him that not even Lincoln tries to stop. Once again, we are able to watch Lincoln: the father. Calm and compassionate. Full of patience and understanding. Playful yet loving. An incredible look into one of the more personal sides of the President within the walls of the White House.

Overall, “Lincoln” gives me goosebumps each time I see it or talk about it. Perhaps the history buff in me finds the significance of Lincoln’s life a moving and crucial time in our country’s history. Maybe it is the powerful characters on the screen as they reveal the turmoil and dedication that went on behind-the-scenes of the passing of the 13th Amendment. Or it could be that each of the talented actors that presented themselves on the screen brought an amazing performance and depicted the scenes in realistic splendor. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and am fully expecting to see it bring home a few awards.

Lincoln

Geared towards the older audiences, the drama played out may be too daunting for little eyes to comprehend. There is war raging and Lincoln often found himself on the front lines talking to soldiers and surveying the wages of the war. Teenagers interested in the history of our nation or the life of Lincoln in general will be entertained. I know my teenagers were. And as Americans, learning about the intricacies that surround our government of days past should be intriguing. Spielberg and Day-Lewis profoundly capture the embodiment of the tumultuous final months of our 16th President… and a time in history that forever changed the fate of our country.

Are you excited about seeing Lincoln? Which element of the movie is most intriguing to you? 

Disclosure: I was provided with a trip to the Disney Animation Studios in return for my honest review on the event mentioned above. All expenses were paid by Disney and no other compensation was given. Regardless, all opinions are 100% my own.