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66 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A crucial moment in history
It's January 1865 and Abraham Lincoln is worried. Not about his voters, he's been convincingly re-elected. Not even about the Civil War, which is clearly heading towards Union victory, although he would dearly like to cut short the slaughter. No, slavery is on his mind. His Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed the slaves in rebel territory and apparently set the ball...
Published on 30 Jan. 2013 by Iain S. Palin

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm amazed that Speilberg thought this script would even make a ...
I'm amazed that Speilberg thought this script would even make a film. There is nothing in the story except the build up to the passing of ammendment 13 to abolish slavery. Half an hour would have been stretching it - it was boring and I was disappointed.
Published 1 month ago by Lucy


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66 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A crucial moment in history, 30 Jan. 2013
By 
Iain S. Palin (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lincoln [DVD] (DVD)
It's January 1865 and Abraham Lincoln is worried. Not about his voters, he's been convincingly re-elected. Not even about the Civil War, which is clearly heading towards Union victory, although he would dearly like to cut short the slaughter. No, slavery is on his mind. His Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed the slaves in rebel territory and apparently set the ball rolling to end it forever in the USA - but Lincoln knows that after the war this and other measures he took may be subject to legal scrutiny and could be reversed. Not only would this be a great wrong, it would render futile the sacrifices made so far and sow the seeds of future conflict. So he has to secure an amendment to the US Constitution outlawing slavery once and for all.

This film is not a bio-pic about a great man, nor a history of a great war, nor an account of the ending of a great evil. It's about one episode which brings together all three, and in a surprisingly intimate manner. If the Constitution is to be amended both houses of Congress must approve the change by 2/3 majorities and it must then be ratified by at least three-quarters of the individual states. The Senate has passed the measure, the states will ratify, but first it must get through the House of Representatives where Lincoln does not have the necessary votes (but does have some inveterate enemies). Basically the film is about how the gets it through.

That makes the film sound a bit like an episode of "The West Wing" and yes, viewers will detect similarities: the engrossing political lobbying, manoeuvring, and horse-trading are all there, leading up to a dramatic final vote. But there is so much more: the back-cloth of the Civil War with due reminders of its savagery, the wider political struggles, and above all the personal lives of the Lincoln family. We know from his political actions that Lincoln is no plaster saint, great man though he is, but we get some insight into his inner convictions about the greater good that drive him to act as he does, and we see him as man battling with grief, striving to keep his family together and maintain his loving if fraught marriage.

There are many good performances and Spielberg's direction is almost flawless, but at the heart of the film is Abraham Lincoln and ultimately the film stands or falls on the actor who plays him. And here, at the heart of the film we have, not an actor playing Lincoln, but the man himself. Daniel Day-Lewis inhabits the role; he becomes the president, in build, appearance, mannerisms, speech and voice. It is a truly great performance and it's difficult to praise it too highly. It will go down in film history as one of the great character portrayals, and it raises the film to a whole new level.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm amazed that Speilberg thought this script would even make a ..., 6 April 2015
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I'm amazed that Speilberg thought this script would even make a film. There is nothing in the story except the build up to the passing of ammendment 13 to abolish slavery. Half an hour would have been stretching it - it was boring and I was disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Day Lewis, 17 May 2015
By 
still searching (MK UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Lincoln [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This is not so much a ‘movie’ but rather a series of beautifully lit and carefully crafted tableaux of various scenes featuring the ‘great man’, often in silhouette and in characteristic pose. Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance is almost chameleon-like and, after a while, the viewer completely forgets even the ‘muttley-like’ vocal mannerisms, as one is swept up in his remarkable evocation of the gaunt, lantern-jawed president.

The nub of the story is the passing of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (basically, to abolish slavery). As such, if it had been called ‘The 13th Amendment’ it would not have been mis-named. There is a great deal of politicking going on: we see Lincoln as the consummate exponent of that art, ladling out home-spun apple pie homilies when necessary combined with the occasional table thump just to remind all present of the steel beneath the velvet glove.

There is too, Lincoln the family man, adeptly pacifying wife Mary, who is sympathetically portrayed, by Sally Field, as a skilful politician in her own right. Together they endure the torment of a son who feels compelled to go to a war she is convinced will claim him as yet another victim of that internecine carnage.

Surrounding them there is a wealth of acting talent on show prominent amongst which is Tommy Lee Jones, as Thaddeus Stevens, the Republican staunch anti-slavery campaigner, and David Strathairn, as Secretary of State, William Seward. But, chipping in with what might be the most engaging performance is James Spader, playing William Bilbo, a political lobbyist and early incarnation of the type of character one might imagine being on the books of the White House during Nixon’s inglorious reign.

It all makes for an interest view, albeit a very brief one (the ‘action’ takes place over a four month period towards the end of Lincoln’s presidency, and life) but is marred by the usual Spielberg traits that will, in all likelihood, prevent him being regarded as one of the greats himself: his seeming inability to avoid the kind of mawkish sentimentality that has the viewer now and again hunting anxiously for the sick bowl!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WITH MALICE TOWARD NONE, 14 May 2013
By 
The Movie Guy "Movies from A to Z" (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Lincoln [DVD] (DVD)
This was not the movie I thought I was going to see. This film is about the passage of the 13th amendment to free the slaves. It looks at the various backroom dealings with lame duck Democrats in order to obtain its passage. As a docu-drama it would make for an excellent showing in the classroom if not for the F-bomb
Steven Spielberg insists on putting his his films (aka "Super 8") in order to ruin it for kids.

Sally Field played an excellent Mary Todd Lincoln capturing her period of perceived insanity. Tommy Lee Jones plays a very important role as Thaddeus Stevens, who was instrumental in the passage of the amendment. Daniel Day-Lewis creates a complex Lincoln, one that goes against the grain of former Lincoln performances. This film does not include the Gettysburg address delivered by Lincoln, but presents it by having others recite it. There are no Lincoln-Douglas debates, no rail splitting, nor does it show how his mother was killed during a zombie infestation as does other films.

The beginning of the film seemed liked an "Oliver Stone" revision of history where African-American soldiers speak up to Lincoln about inequality. This appears to be one of those scenes designed to compact history for the screen.

Parental Guidance: No sex or nudity. 1 F-bomb about midway through the film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stirring tale of the highest ideals and lowest politics, 30 Mar. 2015
By 
Marshall Lord (Whitehaven, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lincoln [DVD] (DVD)
"Lincoln" is an extraordinary film about the final great struggle of an extraordinary man, and I found Daniel Day Lewis's performance in the title role both moving and exhilarating.

Perhaps wisely, the makers of the film did not attempt to cover the whole breadth of Abraham Lincoln's life in a single film, and instead focussed on the last few months of his life, and the historic struggle to complete the abolition of slavery in the USA which dominated those few months.

As the film opens the American Civil war is within sight of its' conclusion. Lincoln has been re-elected and the Confederate States have for all practical purposes been defeated. To bring peace to America the remaining task is to mop up what is left of the CSA or bring them to the negotiating table.

However there remains one other major task: to secure passage of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which at the start of the film has passed the Senate but not the House of Representatives.

Lincoln, much of his party, and most of the Union wanted peace and an end to the war, but to get the abolition of slavery into the constitution Lincoln had to get it through the US House of Representatives by a two thirds majority before the end of the war. When the south laid down their arms, and representatives of the "slave states" were back in Congress, they and the Democrat representatives from the North, would have had the necessary votes to prevent the abolition of slavery.

One of the things you have to understand to follow this story is that the American political parties effectively changed places in the century which followed the events of "Lincoln". Having won victory in the civil war the party which up to that point had been the progressive reformers, the radicals, became the establishment. The reactionary party which lost reinvented itself as the friend of the dispossessed and became a left wing party.

For a British person to understand this, imagine that Tony Blair had gradually taken the Labour party further to the right, and that the Conservatives eventually decided that instead of opposing Labour from the right they were going to reinvent themselves as a socialist party and oppose Labour from the left. No imagine that this had happened a 150 years ago and the relative political position of the two main parties are opposite to what they once were.

Hence the Democrats have now become largely the party of the left and Lincoln's reformist party, the Republicans, became largely the party of the right, and that is how we think of them today. But in 1864-5 at the time of this film they were the other way round, with Republicans supporting equality and an end to Slavery and Democrats opposing this.

If you were to compare the views held by the US Republican party in 1864 with those of Republicans today, you'd find although by today's standards modern Republicans are to the right of centre, in 1864 the moderate Republicans were slightly left of centre and the radical Republicans, though their ides of society would not be radical today, were equivalent to the hard left by the standards of their contemporaries.

By contrast while most Democrats today are on the left, the Democrats of 1864 were the most fossilised of ultra-reactionary dinosaurs, people on the right even by the standards of their own century and who would make the present-day Tea Party look like Marxists. "Lincoln" does not go out of its' way to emphasise this but it doesn't shy away from depicting it either.

Much of the film is about the high-wire balancing act which Lincoln had to pursue, trying to bring the war to an end but not too fast, holding the radical and moderate wings of his own party together while persuading enough Democrats to vote with them, balancing peace and reform. The film poses some unanswerable questions about whether and when the ends justify the means.

In Britain and many other countries when someone wins or loses an election they take or lose office almost immediately but the US constitution does not work like that. There is a period of some months after an election when those who won seats have not yet taken office and those voted out have not yet left it. The period depicted in this film, and the political struggle it displays, took place during one of those "lame duck" periods between an election and the installation of the new congressmen. One of the tactics the Lincoln administration is shown using was to induce defeated Democrats who had lost their seats and would shortly be unemployed, but were still member of the House of Representatives for a few more weeks, to change their vote in exchange for the promise of a new job after they ceased to be congressmen.

This is far from the only example of cynical political tactics deployed by both sides within the film. One of the best performances in the film is given by Tommy Lee Jones as the radical Republican congressman Thaddeus Stevens, who had sometimes been a thorn in Lincoln's side but, unlike some of his radical colleagues, has the sense to see that the only way to free the slaves is to help Lincoln get the 13th amendment through.

There is a very powerful scene where Democrat congressman try desperately to goad Stevens into admitting that the 13th Amendment is the stepping stone to all sorts of ultra radical ideas like - horrors - equality for black people. Realising that this admission would kill the amendment's chances of getting through, he refuses to give them what they want.

Besides Daniel Day Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones, other great performances in this film come from James Spader as one of the fixers the administration employs to garner votes, Sally Field as Lincoln's wife and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as his son. Jared Harris gets a cameo as Ulysses S Grant.

I strongly recommend this film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Daniel Day Lewis - Lincoln and the Best Actor Oscar, 17 Dec. 2012
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lincoln [DVD] (DVD)
Very rarely, a film comes along driven by a central performance of such power and verve that you realize how important is the cinematic art and leaves you pondering why it has become quite so debased. Steven Spielberg's engrossing biopic "Lincoln" is not the usual IMAX fodder and neither is it designed to make many easy concessions to the audience in terms of historical narrative or political understanding. It is based on a central part of the best political book of recent years Doris Kearns Goodwin's mammoth "Team of Rivals" and does cry out for a depth of knowledge of the American Civil War and the nature of the 13th Amendment to pass the abolition of slavery into the US Constitution. From this, you may conclude that its dry and dusty political drama. You could not be any more wrong.

At the heart of the film is Daniel Day Lewis. His performance is completely thrilling and overpowering. Kearns Goodwin has paid him the huge compliment when she recently stated that "Daniel Day-Lewis perfectly and uncannily embodies Lincoln - from the way he looks to his mannerisms, voice, speech and conviction". As an actor, he is renown for inhabiting the part but here you will never be able to think of Lincoln again without thinking Day Lewis. He embodies all elements of the Lincoln character, he owns the cinema and you realise that you are again watching the greatest living screen actor showing how it should be done. Spielberg has long harbored a desire to make a film about the greatest American President and he has found the right man for the job. Even today the Civil War remains the great fault line in American politics and at its heart is the genius of Lincoln a politician who in the US has almost garnered saint-like characteristics (go to the memorial in Washington DC and try not to be moved), The brilliance of Kearns Goodwin's book was to show him as a warts and all politician who could plot and scheme with the best of them. He used his folksy Illinois guile and savvy to navigate his way through the greatest unfinished conundrum left by the Founding Fathers the question of slavery, yet at the same time could rise to the political summit in terms of his breadth of vision and oratorical genius. Somehow Day-Lewis captures all these dimensions.

Spielberg's film pitches right into the action with Union soldiers faces squashed into the mud by Confederate boots and Lincoln discussing the Gettysburg address with his troops following the battle. The film is a slow starter as we become aware of the great characters of the age not least Lincoln's "indispensable man," his Secretary of State, William Seward played wonderfully by David Strathairn, his tortured wife Mary "Molly" Todd Lincoln manically played by Sally Field and a superb supporting role in the form of Tommy Lee Jones who brings to the great leader of the Radical Republicans Thaddeus Stevens, a performance of such roaring gusto that he steals every scene. His attack on a pro-slavery democrat House of Representatives member is a tour de force as he spits out with cold disdain "How can I hold that all men are created equal when here before me stands stinking the moral carcass of the gentleman from Ohio? Proof that some men are inferior. Endowed by their maker with dim-​wits, impermeable to reason, with cold pallid slime in their veins instead of hot red blood". Spielberg has finally done the historical charter of Stevens a great service and rescued him from the "mad abolitionist" of previous portraits. Equally his telling of the story of the passing of the 13th Amendment is a model in terms of tension and pace. The introduction of James Spader heading a team of unscrupulous political lobbyists in the direct employ of Lincoln adds some nice humour.

Certainly the film has mistakes. Many will point out that Mary Todd Lincoln never attended debates in the House, that black people in the film are largely "bit part players" and its ending does become hagiographical as it moves into Lincoln's death bed scene and his second inaugural speech. But these are small complaints. This reviewer was lucky enough to see this terrific film in a packed cinema in the Mid West and it has done roaring business across the US. It is proof that not all cinemagoers want endlessly dull 3D Marvel Blockbusters or the great President cast as a "Vampire Hunter"! Films that make you think, that chart the struggles of enlightenment and which resonate for today's events are rare beasts. If there is any justice in the world "Lincoln" will be recognised for what it is; namely a truly great film with a compelling central performance, a stellar supporting cast and subject fully deserving of this lavish treatment
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ok for civil war buffs/historians, 1 July 2014
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This review is from: Lincoln [DVD] (DVD)
bit of a shocker here , the congress has to vote on the free slavery bill
this suprised me for 2 reasons number 1 i assumed when the when
lincoln announced the emmancipation law i assumed it to be a done deal
when it was announced a couple of years earlier, number 2 the congress
voted on the law only weeks before the war ended and passed by only 3 votes
my puzzlement is this if so many northern congress men were not in favour of the bill
why go to war in the first place
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68 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, Powerful, Spielberg's Best Film In A Long Time, 1 Feb. 2013
By 
Dickie "The Bear" (Berkshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lincoln (Blu-ray + UV Copy) [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
The danger of a film such as Lincoln is that you risk making a film more concerned with the legend rather than an honest depiction of the man and reality but Lincoln doesn't fall into this trap and, for its subject matter, is an enthralling tale. Steven Spielberg likewise hasn't made a truly great film in years; War Horse for me suffered in part from a complete lack of sublety though the visuals triumphed and here he comes across very restrained. 'Lincoln' ironically is a rather misleading title because like 'Zero Dark Thirty', it is more of a historical account of the ending of slavery in the United States rather than a biopic of the man himself. This is perhaps the most talky of the Best Picture nominations this year but it is enthralling, occassionally tense and quite funny and as much as Spielberg deserves credit, equal credit goes to the cast. Daniel Day Lewis again delivers in one of the most extraordinary performances in motion picture history and boasts an almost devine presence as the famed American President. This is easily Steven Spielberg's best film in years; powerful, haunting as if you're looking into the past and watching history unfold. Like Schindler's List, you can almost imagine Lincoln ending up as essential viewing in American schools in the years to come but for the casual viewer this is a well made, albeit long film that is superbly acted, surprinsly funny but ultimately very satisfying.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely stunning piece of film-making., 6 April 2015
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The perfect companion for all movie enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

I love films that aim to illuminate and portray a period in history as accurately as they can. Lincoln is a prime example of this and while I fully understand that this film can be experienced as an overlong dull affair, to me it is a historical drama that ticks practically all boxes.

Let's get the obvious out of the way. Daniel Day Lewis's performance is stellar. The level of dedication he brings to his roles is awe-inspiring and here he does something extraordinary. He gives character and humanity to someone that only exists on paper. There is a certain collective awareness of what kind of man Lincoln was and Day Lewis taps into that with astounding conviction. There was always the risk that Lincoln would be turned into a mythical character and even though at points it felt like that was going to happen, it never goes out of bounds making Lincoln very human indeed.

The supporting cast is amazing, with Tommy Lee Jones giving one of his most impressive performances ever. I was also very impressed with Sally Field. She has a tough role and she injects it with intelligence and a powerful fierceness. She matches Day Lewis in every scene they share.

My worries around Spielberg directing it were thankfully unfounded. I hated War Horse and was very afraid that this would travel the same route. It didn't. At all. It is a classic film with a classic touch and I actually found it surprisingly devoid of the usual manipulations used by Spielberg. I think he was dedicated to making an accurate film about one of the most pivotal moments in American history. His attention to detail in everything on display is second to none and his handling of much of the material is stunning.

But the absolute star of this film is Tony Kushner's script. He has crafted an authentic narrative centered around not so much the character of Lincoln, but around his attempts to pass the thirteenth amendment. It comes with absolutely stunning dialogue, with a couple of monologues that, especially being delivered by a cast as good as this, are simply breathtaking in how beautifully they are written. I've used this word a couple of times before, it's all about dedication. This is a dedicated script. It has no other intention than to tell this story in the best way possible and it succeeds admirably.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A few pearls in the mud, 10 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Lincoln [DVD] (DVD)
I looked forward to this movie and was immensely disappointed. Redeemed a little by some stupendous acting it nevertheless made me squirm. Hollywood cannot resist gilding the lily with a rose tinted syrupy coating of sentimentalism and myth. This is America attempting to hold onto itself against the tidal wave of repugnance for it's perpetual imperialist wars and its arrogant disdain for anyone not American. This is the plutocracy politically re-educating Americans about its "greatness". The eloquent and refined speeches from house servants and foot soldiers with their far off eyes made me nauseated.
The American dream has become a myth as epitomised by this production. Lincoln did not give a fig for the negroes at the beginning of the war, he believed that they should be equal before the law but would never be equal intellectually, he never attempted to moderate the destruction wrought by the Union Army on its march south and he moderated his murder of the American Indian only because he didn't want provoke Europe into joining in the war.
" Authorities in Minnesota asked President Lincoln to order the immediate execution of all 303 Indian males found guilty. Lincoln was concerned with how this would play with the Europeans, whom he was afraid were about to enter the war on the side of the South. He offered the following compromise to the politicians of Minnesota: They would pare the list of those to be hung down to 39. In return, Lincoln promised to kill or remove every Indian from the state and provide Minnesota with 2 million dollars in federal funds. Remember, he only owed the Sioux 1.4 million for the land.
So, on December 26, 1862, the Great Emancipator ordered the largest mass execution in American History, where the guilt of those to be executed was entirely in doubt. Regardless of how Lincoln defenders seek to play this, it was nothing more than murder to obtain the land of the Santee Sioux and to appease his political cronies in Minnesota."
Scott Barta
Most journalists in America are nothing more than Government cheerleaders. Most Hollywood directors too and, new to me, film critics, apparantly.
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Lincoln (Blu-ray + UV Copy) [Region Free]
Lincoln (Blu-ray + UV Copy) [Region Free] by Steven Spielberg (Blu-ray - 2013)
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