Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Lincoln Comes To Life by Pamela Powell
I had my doubts about this movie. After subjecting myself to "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer" earlier in the year, I wasn't sure that I could sit through another movie decimating the character of the president that, to me, was one of the best leaders our country has ever had. In addition, I will admit (I seem to always admit something of embarrassment in my reviews!) that I am not a history buff. (I apologize to Mr. Johnson, my high school history teacher.) History just never came to life for me in a book. Back to the movie. My husband, who IS a history buff and a Civil War aficianado, accompanied me to the film, to give his professional opinion about the accuracy of the film. My sole purpose was just to review the movie as a whole.
I absolutely loved the way Daniel Day Lewis, to me, became President Lincoln. I had a preconceived notion of what Mr. Lincoln was like, and Daniel Day Lewis brought this version of him to life on the silver screen. His even temper, his soft and subtle mannerisms brought him to me as a caring individual. His tenacity and perseverance backed by intellect was my mind's eye of Lincoln. Maybe I actually did learn more in history class than I thought. As Lewis' Lincoln told stories and analogies, I was spell bound. I wanted to hear the story like a little kid during circle time in first grade listened to her teacher. How much of this was fact, I don't know. It was the overall person that I saw coming to life before me that was so impressive. Lewis, the writers, and director, brought Lincoln to life. The rest of the cast was outstanding however, no one seems to be giving Tommy Lee Jones enough credit. I put him on the same level of performance as Mr. Lewis. Jones' character of Thaddeus Stevens was a curmudgeon with high moral standards and a vocabulary and ability to impale his opponents with his poetic harpoon. Jones stole every scene. I was rapt when he appeared and concentrated on each and every word he uttered. I would be remiss if I didn't also mention David Strahairn who played William Seward from my hometown area of Westfield, NY. Sallie Field truly looked like Mary Todd and gave such a powerful performance and justification of Mary's instability as she was a mother who lost her child and had guilt that she didn't do enough to save him. How does one ever recover from that. Again, the cast was incredible. There were so many recognizable names and faces who, I am sure, wanted to have some part, no matter how big or how small, in this incredible movie.
The story took place over a small, but very important time period of Lincoln's presidency. His goal was to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and he stopped at nothing to make sure that this passed before the end of the war. Did this bribing and coercion truly take place? I hadn't thought of Lincoln in that way before. Did he twist and turn language to work for him? I'm sure he did. He was a lawyer. (Lawyer friends, please don't take offense at this. It's actually a compliment. Lincoln was so verbally savvy that he could manipulate his sentences to manipulate people. Pretty smart!) Although the beginning of the movie was extremely slow, the pace and interest did pick up after the first 30 minutes. This 2 hour and 30 minute movie, in my opinion, could have been easily pared down to an even 2 hours. Had I have rented this movie at home, I would have gotten sidetracked in the first 15-20 minutes and then never finished it. Then I would have gotten late fees, but that's another story. I'm so glad that I did see it through to the end.
The accuracy of the time period was to be marveled! I lived in the DC and Maryland area for a few years. I cherished the history along with the Georgian architectural style and home decor of all the historic landmarks we toured while we lived there. The furniture was spot-on accurate. The rich wood, the paint colors, and the antique rugs were perfectly done. It almost brought me to tears when I spied my old secretary desk that I cut into two pieces to remove from my Georgian home as the future owners didn't want it. It was the only way to remove it from the remodeled room. It was later deemed to be worth several thousand dollars and now I have spotted it in an historic movie. Oh, well. The scenes that truly captivated me were the ones that took place in the Capitol Building where the House of Representatives argued and demoralized one another with their elaborate language. They were smug and condescending to one another which is exactly what I envisioned based on a wonderful tour of the Annapolis Capitol Building (thanks to that wonderful tour guide!) I had the pleasure of taking in. The battles were but a small piece of the movie, thankfully. Again, I've visited every (and I mean EVERY) battlefield in the DC, VA, MD, WV and PA area and the thought of watching the war all over again, gave me a pit in my stomach. I was in luck. This movie was more about the political workings to gain a desired goal than the intricacies of war. The ancillary war was in the House of Representatives. The tension built to a point of explosion as I watched the verbal bludgeoning. It was amazing that this tension could build as I knew how it turned out!
"Lincoln" was worth my money to see on the big screen. It was beautifully shot, well-told, and phenomenally acted with standouts of Daniel Day Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones. It brought Lincoln to life and gave him that human characteristic I think we all wanted him to have. It also made me appreciate what happened in order to make all people equal under the law. Thank you for saving Lincoln from the clutches (or should I say 'fangs') of the last Lincoln movie.
If you're a history buff, you will love this movie. (My husband is still going on and on about it!) If you aren't a history buff, you're still going to enjoy it, just be wary of the 2 hour and 30 minute time frame with 22 minutes of trailers before hand. Don't get scared off in the first 15-30 minutes. Hang in there and know that you'll be educated, enlightened and entertained. That's a tough combination, but they pull it off!