Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

Lincoln – 2012


Who was Abraham Lincoln? Is there a definitive answer to this? Can we truly believe what we see on a screen to be completely factual?  Well, when looking at Lincoln, it’s fair to say that he did not hunt and mutilate vampires as the film “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” suggests. The only fact is that what we see in films, depicting and representing history is not completely true and is merely a narrative representation of historical events. 2012’s “Lincoln”, a nominee for ‘Best Picture’ in 2013 is Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the pivotal moment in U.S history that altered the future of the nation immensely. Set during the heat of the Civil War, the film focuses on Lincoln’s move to abolish slavery and the struggles involved in executing the passing of the emancipation proclamation.


It’s a very slow paced, immensely epic drama that is jam-packed full of patriotism, it can only be summed up as powerful. The way everything is so drawn out and time consuming, the sense of struggle and hardship really begin to shine through.

Fortitude, dedication and loyalty are three key characteristics that are heavily focused on in “Lincoln”; with political drama being the primary focus, as opposed to Lincoln’s own personal, family-based issues. The world of politics is a unique and incredibly undesirable one, and by the way Spielberg depicts the slaughter house of a court room back in the mid-19th century, it almost seems like nothing has changed.


Without the dialogue, “Lincoln” would simply be beautifully staged, well lit shots of Daniel Day Lewis standing around looking outside a window, but he’d still find a way to win an Oscar by doing that. Being so dialogue-heavy and including extravagant political jargon which for the most part is yelled across a courtroom, “Lincoln” can be quite confusing to some audiences, yet for the most part, the story is simplistic and more or less universally known.

On top of being potentially distanced from the piece having not learned certain political phrases and terms, not being familiar with certain characters of the time will be of a disadvantage to viewers, with several politicians being portrayed, each with their own unique contribution to the abolishment of slavery.

There is such a strong sense of patriotism and love for the nation in “Lincoln”, but nothing compares to the depiction of Lincoln himself. The 16th President of the United States is so incredibly glorified and portrayed even as a ‘godly’ figure that it begins to sway form what may or may not have been a honest representation. Lincoln is a loving, honest, kind, gentle and respectful family man who loves to sit and ramble on with endless stories, all said with a huge grin, ear to ear, yet he also knuckles down and becomes a stern, fiercely passionate leader who wears his heart on his sleeve. It would be difficult to dispute all of this, however the real Abraham Lincoln did once say If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it…”. A phrase such as this could indicate his intentions being to sustain a solid Union, more so than what “Lincoln” depicts; but this is a film review, not a university essay…

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The exceptional Daniel Day Lewis, like in any role he undertakes, delivers an outstanding performance as Lincoln (which landed him an Oscar), but it’s hardly anything to be surprised about, its expected. His portrayal of Abraham lincoln is sensational to say the least. His overall depiction (not encapsulation or reenactment however) of Lincoln’s mannerisms, stance and idiosyncrasies demonstrate not only commitment, but a world class approach to serious and potent method acting; Daniel Day Lewis cannot be praised enough for his incredible acting talent.

The only qualm could be his voice, having a preconceived assumption on how the real Lincoln spoke, hearing D.D.L’s impression was a little unexpected; Lincoln is tall and majestic, therefore it would be expected he have a big, bold and bellowing voice to fit; instead, he sounds high-pitched, aged and feeble.

Overall, “Lincoln” is a passionate drama that was so marvellously created, acted, shot but most importantly, scripted. The tension and excitement of Spielberg’s epic really does seem like travelling back in time to that particular era. It’s a film that is so important to the people of America and evokes such tumultuous patriotism and emotion. It doesn’t matter how Lincoln is portrayed or how any of the supporting associators with the 12th amendment are depicted, Spielberg has simply brought us his well researched, thoroughly detailed account on American history, presented in a narrative structure.



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