Spielberg’s Lincoln

As a film buff and political history junkie, I *really* enjoyed Lincolnon both levels. I was a bit nervous about the tone because at his worst Spielberg’s film can be treacly and saccharine. BUT the film captured the rollicking, melancholy and devious complexity of the real Lincoln, Daniel Day-Lewis checked his hammy impulses at the door and disappeared into the role so I gotta give this latest opus a big thumbs up/4 stars/A kinda notice.

Comparisons to our current body politic (corpus delicti?) are inevitable. It’s no surprise that I’m pretty sure that Lincoln would be a moderate Democrat nowadays. He was a reasonable man who believed in progress and science and wasn’t big on organized religion. The Tea Party would primary the hell out of him or anyone else who supported the 13th Amendment. If it’s not in the original Constitution, fuck it, they’d say.

Speaking of Confederates neo and old school: Southern pols haven’t changed at all. Veteran character actor Jackie Earle Haley plays CSA Veep Alexander Stephens who leads the least covert “secret” peace delegation ever. Despite the fact that the Confederates are losing the war on the battlefield, he presents a list of demands, which go nowhere. The C in CSA did not stand for compromise, after all. It reminds me of certain party that lost a national election that centered on tax policy insisting that it’s their way or the highway. Speaker Boner may be an Ohioan but the GOP is Confederate to its core.

Anyway, go see the flick, which also features great turns by Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Sally Field and James Spader. A special commendation goes to Walton Goggins of The Shield and Justified who is known for playing crazy-eyed, homicidal villains. In Lincoln, he plays-get ready-a spineless pussy of a Congressman who’s undecided on the anti-slavery 13th Amendment. Nice to see him cast against type: Boyd Crowder would have caused some serious mayhem but this dude wobbled and waffled before caving at the end.

Let’s end with some Goggins before and after pictures:


8 thoughts on “Spielberg’s Lincoln

  1. Good to hear the recommendation. I just finished reading a couple of 19th century histories of Washington DC as a sort of prep.
    Also feel a little obligated to view stuff Kushner had a hand in helping create. But not in a bad way — I just like Tony’s stuff.

  2. Likewise loved the effort and the result on every cinematic level (and wasn’t this John Williams’s most restrained score evah?)
    Curious if you think as I do that the coda featuring the assassination was unnecessary…seems to me the film could have ended powerfully with Abe heading out, late to the show…

  3. Well damn, I wondered how long it was going to take before TLJ went back to being the actor who stole The Fugitive from Harrison Ford. 🙂

  4. @Maple: Film doesn’t claim the states ratified the Amendment before Lincoln was murdered. It was just about the vote in the House..

  5. OK. Y’all have got me interested (and I was highly resistant. First seeing Lincoln film and remembering a promo for a film where Lincoln went around hunting vampires. Then seeing Spielberg and being dubious about him doing a historical novel – are the civil war cannons digitally remastered as walkie talkies?). But I see the people that are commenting on it are people who are for historical accuracy.
    I’m also going to have to do a little research. It hit me while reading on this film that the 13th Amendment went in under Lincoln. But with the Civil War and the immediate post-war sanctions against the South, how can they claim to have gotten the needed percentage of the votes to validate /enact / ratify the 13th? It almost seems like the vote would have been only taken among the Northern states – talk about voter caging !
    Of course, personally, I would hope that the changes in the oountry have removed the need to have the 13th. That a literal slavery would be untenable. But I have to note with the labor / management conflicts, fight over working conditions, livable wages, etc. that a virtual slavery is still a very likely occurance. (Not to mention various criminal enterprises which engage in conditions that are a very real slavery).

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