Tuesday, December 25, 2012
"Lincoln," directed by Steven Spielberg with dialogue by Tony Kushner, presents an engaging portrait of a great president and the monumental tasks he faced. It fell to Abraham Lincoln to prosecute both the brutal Civil War and to push Congress to adopt the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery. While pro-slavery forces argued that the South was willing to make peace if slavery remained intact, Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) realized that slavery would remain a divisive, immoral institution if continued. To achieve ratification, he commanded his aides to use all means necessary, from moral appeals to pressure to political bribery. Further, his proponents appealed to legal, not racial, equality in order to pass the controversial amendment. This strategy offended the fervent abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, but he pragmatically adopted it. In Daniel Day-Lewis's masterful portrait, Lincoln is a source of folksy wisdom, and he is also troubled by his relationship with his unstable wife, Mary (Sally Field), and the death of his first son from illness. Through it all, he had a steely determination to reunite the country and end the disgrace of slavery. Lincoln was the president America needed at a decisive turning point, as made evident in this moving film.