Oh, Steven Spielberg you magnificent bastard. Is there nothing you can’t do? You gave us reason to believe that extraterrestrial’s have warm hearts and good intentions; convinced us that dinosaurs can be reborn if we find fossilized mosquitos; had us praying for Private Ryan’s safe return home; and allowed audiences to feel the pain and witness the horrors that Jewish people were forced to endure
live through during World War II. Now, you’ve given us, President Obama, and 99 Cent stores even more reason to love Abraham Lincoln.
With the help of the man of many faces, Daniel-Day Lewis (Abraham Lincoln), Spielberg paints the portrait of more than just a legendary American figure – he presents the life of an everyday man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. A man who could hypnotize a roomful of people with tales and stories that fit any particular situation that was at hand. A man who struggled with juggling the present and future of a nation that was tearing itself apart, and tending to a wife (Sally Field) who kept flirting with a nervous breakdown because of the fate of one son met and the military fate of another (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Oh, and did I mention that on top of all this, he’s taking on the seemingly impossible task of getting the 13th Amendment passed through Congress and thus ending slavery? Yeah, try putting that on Justin Bieber built shoulders.
Just tending to a demanding wife is enough to break an average man’s mental psyche (just look at what Eva Longoria did to Mark Sanchez’s career. Oh wait…), and even though Lincoln was above average at his height, like any man, Lincoln was born with only two hands to work with. So thankfully, close confidants like William Seward (David Strathairn) and Preston Blair (Hal Holbrook) helped the Presidential wordsmith utilize different – and not so honest – ways to get the impossible done. Secret arrangements, backroom deals, text messages to Jill Kelly – this man did whatever it took to get the bill passed and get through the day. And getting through those days wasn't easy while fighting the Civil War and slavery.
To help with the cause, Seward had W.N Bilbo (James Spader a.k.a. Robert California a.k.a. the man who put “The Office” out of business.) and his band of merry men running around and at times risking their lives to convince Democrats – who were the Tea Party types during the Civil War – to vote for the 13th Amendment. Meanwhile back at the ranch, President Lincoln agreed to hear out “the enemy” in order to bring an end to the war. However, just the notion of the “enemy” setting foot in Washington, would all but end any chance of the 13th Amendment bill passing. With demonic Democrats out to destroy Lincolns credibility and end his mission to abolish slavery, keeping things on the downlow was as necessary as a parent accompanying their teen daughter to an R. Kelly concert.
Though “Lincoln” was based during a time of war, the battle itself wasn’t featured as much as you’d think, and wasn’t necessary either. Sure, the opening scene featured an intense battle and soldiers dying, but it’s an afterthought once the movie is over. You grow an appreciation for individual characters and what they bring to the melting pot. You root for a defiant Thaddeus Stevens (played by a Tommy Lee Jones who almost certainly secured an Oscar nomination), who’s constantly attacked by the loathsome pro-slavery Democrat Fernando Wood (Lee Pace) for wanting race equality. Their barbs towards each other turn the floor of the House of Representative meetings into the “Snaps” segment of the Uptown Comedy Club. You laugh at Robert Calif, err, W.N. Bilbo’s drunken ways and actions in his attempt to secure 12 Democratic votes to get the bill passed. This movie wasn’t simply character driven, it was character flown.
Spielberg and his team of perfectionists created nothing short of a masterpiece. It was emotionally powerful and visually enticing. And no, Daniel Day-Lewis didn’t kill any zombies or vampires in the film to make it entertaining, but you know what he did kill? It. And at the end of the day, “it” was the only thing that needed to be put out of its misery and Mr. Lewis straight Dr. Kevorkianed it.
Don’t be surprised if President Obama is inaugurated with his right hand on Lincoln’s Bible again and a copy of Spielberg’s “Lincoln” under it.