Sunday, November 18, 2012

LINCOLN 11/18/12

Spielberg's LINCOLN is a film that is part history lesson - the machinations to get the 13th Amendment prohibiting Slavery through the House of Representatives, and part polishing the myth of the 16th President of the USA.
What was most interesting and novel to me was the forestalling of peace negotiations with the Confederacy -peace talks held hostage so that the Amendment would be voted on by a Congress that did NOT include the secessionist Confederate states which would have voted against it. More lives were lost due to the delay BUT an Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery was now "the law of the land."

Daniel Day-Lewis is wonderful as Abraham Lincoln - looks just like him with his lean stooped body reflecting the moral decisions and political maneuverings the job of leading a nation entails. He can be boring and long-winded and at the same time incredibly wise and human.

In this film, Mary Lincoln played by Sally Fields - finally a great part for her (the best since Norma Rae} seems to have a larger influence on the President's decision making than I was ever aware of. The wife of a President - one who is prone to deep depressions triggered by the loss of their 12 year old son William from Typhoid is a tedious job and Sally Field makes the most of it.

Tommy Lee Jones is terrific as the powerful Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Representative Thaddeus Stevens, an abolitionist Senator whose "radical" views on the full equality of blacks - including voting rights, etc. must be pragmatically held in check in order fot the Legislation to pass.

There is comic relief furnished by James Spader and John Fawkes complete with prat-falls portraying latter-day Lobbyists arm-twisting and financial "give-aways" in order to get the needed votes.

This film is very contemporary in the way leaders and elected Representatives have to wrestle with their own ethical beliefs, and at the same time vote for issues that might be anathema to them. Yes -a good history lesson.

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