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Film Review: Lincoln

Posted on by Janet Awe
Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln (©2012 Dream Works II Distribution Company)

Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln (© 2012 Dream Works II Distribution Co.)

Set in 1865, just after President Abraham Lincoln’s re-election, this tells of his dogged fight to get the 13th amendment of the American constitution passed, to abolish slavery.  At the time, a civil war had been raging for four years, between people of the South, where slavery was widespread, and people of the North, where black people were already free –  and where many had enlisted and fought alongside white soldiers, to achieve emancipation for all. 600,000 people had already died in the civil war and Lincoln was under extreme pressure to bring it to an end. However, he was determined to get the amendment passed first, as he knew it would be blocked by the Southerners once peace was restored. So he put himself on the line – and risked many more deaths – in order to push it through.

This is a sobering but ultimately joyous film – due to the obvious outcome.

Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln. (©2012 Dream Works II Distribution Company)

Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln. (© 2012 Dream Works II Distribution Co.)

It’s a little bit too long and also very verbose, which makes it quite hard going in some places, but overall its hugely enjoyable for its fascinating historical insight and its great cast. Daniel Day Lewis is wonderful as Lincoln – easily combining gravitas with a dry sense of humour. But the stand out performance comes from Tommy Lee Jones who’s superb as the outspoken anti-slavery campaigner, forced to hide his extreme liberalism for the greater, long-term good.

Either cynically or commemoratively released within days of Barack Obama taking up his second term as President – coincidently, swearing on the same bible used by Lincoln – it’s a poignant reminder of how things used to be.  And yes, I cried at this, too.

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