I did a search for Lincoln before posting this, and found a three page thread that has run its course. I did read the entire thread, but wanted to get some feedback from anyone who saw the movie and wanted to chime in, or like. Me, recently caught it on cable or on DVD and didn’t have a chance to discuss it when it first came out.
So here is my “review”
The movie was a large disappointment for me. I’m a history buff, and the US Civil War period is one of my favorite eras to learn about. Obviously, Lincoln is a prominent part of that period, so like many folks, I had read a few books about him.
I read the views and comments in the first thread, and I was rather shocked to find that the only person who echoed many of my own comments was PRR (now banned).
One thing that wasn’t touched on at all in the first thread was the one thing I found most distracting of all. Maybe part of the issue was watching it on a TV and not the big screen, but the darkness of the movie made it all but unwatchable. Every scene, no matter what time of day or night it was supposed to have occurred, was shot in a shadow. We only saw one half of Daniel Day Lewis (DDL’s) face in almost every scene. Not just him, but every character in every scene was in half face projection, a light shining behind the actor to give the appearance of permanent nighttime during the last 4 months of his life.
Beyond that, the Spielberg “schmaltz”, as someone called it really annoyed me. From the two black soldiers talking to Lincoln at the beginning of the movie, and one of them taking Lincoln to task for things like equal pay, and sounding like a Harvard trained attorney doing so, to the two white soldiers reciting the Gettysburg Address, the scene with Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) in bed with his black mistress and maid, the foreshadowing scene with Lincoln leaving the White House and leaving his gloves while his black servant does a double take as Lincoln walks down the hall toward his death and date with destiny. These scenes were just distracting, and annoyed me more than they should have. It had the feel of forced political correctness, and worse, scenes to tug at the Oscar voters. I don’t like it when a director tries to manipulate my feelings with selectively picked pieces of history, and I felt that Spielberg was doing that in spades.
I will say this… DDL’s performance was outstanding, as everyone said. He deserved the Oscar. However the movie itself did not deserve Best Picture, nor Best Director. I was pleasantly surprised that when I looked up the oscars awarded, Lincoln received only 2.
My one “I recognize that actor!” Moment was seeing Jackie Earle Haley, or Kelly Leek from the Bad News Bears as the VP of the confederacy. HA! A rebel until the end!
The first thread was written soon after everyone had seen it when it first came out, and the praise was almost universal. I had to laugh at some of the comments, like “I finally know how Lincoln sounded”. No you don’t. You know how DDL sounds acting like Lincoln. Doris Kerns Goodwin is a nice author, but she is also over-rated, and she’s not the gospel on Lincoln.
Some also didn’t like TLJ’s accent for a PA representative, but that didn’t bother me too much. I did agree though that he is a lot like Sean Connery, a guy with absolutely no ability to do an accent. But that’s ok. That is why DDL won an oscar and TLJ didn’t.
Sally Field was hard to look at as Mary Todd Lincoln. But I think she looked like the MTL I’ve seen in pictures, and she pulled off a believable character. She has always been portrayed as a nut bag, but I think people minimize the stress both her and Lincoln were under, I don’t know how. Lincoln actually lived through the 4 years in the White House wi out killing MTL just to shut her up and get a peaceful night’s sleep. Plus, they lose a child during the presidency. With a civil war raging, it’s not like Lincoln could take a month off to grieve.
Well, those are my thoughts. Not a movie I’d watch again unless I need something on TV to fall asleep by. But it was worth watching for DDL alone. He truly is a remarkable actor. I would have liked to see the movie directed by someone else, with a different writer. It could have been a lifetime performance, but Spielberg ruined it by doing those things which make his movies great hits at the box office but not a oscar winners.