Review: ‘Lincoln’

– Rebecca Clayton contributed to this report

If Abraham Lincoln himself were to rise from the dead, he’d probably have a hard time convincing you he was the real deal.


Daniel Day-Lewis is very convincing as Abraham Lincoln. Photo: Dreamworks Studios

In this historical biopic, Daniel Day-Lewis seems to channel the president with his stooping gait and iconic beard. “Lincoln” is Steven Spielberg’s portrayal of Abraham Lincoln’s battle to abolish slavery in a nation in the midst of civil war.

Based on the book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin, the film follows Lincoln through just a few short months of his life, up until his death in 1865.

During this time, Lincoln must deal with pressures to end a civil war that has been waging for around four years, alongside family disputes and attempts to persuade the opposition to vote in favour of his cause.

Steven Spielberg has been involved in the production of numerous box-office successes, such as “Jurassic Park” and “Transformers”. However, Lincoln has more similarities to the likes of “Schindler’s List”, with Spielberg putting his spin on an emotional historical event.

The film’s power lies in the patriotic, yet never overdone, tone that runs throughout, with inspirational speeches and lingering camera shots in abundance.

Long, uninterrupted dialogues, dark lighting and period costume only add to the subtle effect aimed at by the director.

Sally Fields depicts the supportive yet troubled First Lady, grieving for one son, and terrified another will sacrifice himself to the war effort.

Although he received a high billing, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s appearance as Lincoln’s eldest son Robert is fleeting. Robert decides he cannot stand by idly whilst the country is in turmoil, and joins the Union Army, to his mother’s distaste.

Tommy Lee Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens, the stern-faced Radical Republican leader, deservedly earning himself a nomination for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

It is of no surprise that Lincoln is up for Academy Awards and BAFTAs; the cast are certainly deserving of such accolades.

This is a film that perhaps wouldn’t suit the tastes of those preferring action-packed sequences, with very little actually occurring, despite such a monumental period of history being covered. Even Lincoln’s death occurs off screen.

Slow moving, the film requires patience from the audience. But, by sticking with it, you are rewarded with a valiant attempt to portray a time of great political significance in the emancipation of an enslaved people.

However, whilst the film was a moving and interesting experience, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that Abraham Lincoln didn’t actually hunt vampires.

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