On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I ventured out with a bunch of other people to go see a movie. There were a lot more people at the theater than I imagined there would be and a decent amount seeing Lincoln as well. On a side note, some guy, I’m guessing he was in his early 20’s, came 1865 from the waist up. White button-down shirt, antique-looking black vest, tie, and these mini leather gloves. I was impressed and thought about complimenting him but he was with his family and at that point I was by myself so I didn’t want to look like a freak. After 30 million years of previews, including one for the Hobbit (*fist pumps wildly*), the movie began.
The movie opens with Lincoln talking to two African American soldiers in an army camp. The exchange is a poignant foreshadowing for the rest of the movie because it centers around Lincoln trying to pass the 13th Amendment. There are moments that stood out to me as well as the extremely talented cast. Daniel Day-Lewis is spot on as Lincoln. Even though we don’t know what he sounded like, besides what people of the time period wrote about it, his dialect sounded authentic. His hair was unkempt and his clothes were usually awkwardly fitted to his body which is keeping true to accounts of him. There was even attention paid to his shuffling gait. I had read in a yahoo article a few days before seeing the movie that he had an awkward, gangly way of walking. Sally Fields as Mary Todd Lincoln was also superb. Through IMDB I found out that she had to fight for the part because she is ten years older than Daniel Day-Lewis. You could feel her passion for the character and because I knew the back story, I felt it even more.
Tommy Lee Jones also stuck out to me as the unlikely comedic relief. The expectation is that this movie will be a linear, point a to b, period drama. There were a handful of times I was surprised at the lightness. The whole theater, including me, laughed as Thaddeus Stevens (TLJ) snarkily responds to a knock on his office door with, “It opens.” When mentioning comedy in this movie it would be wrong to not include James Spader (W.N. Bilbo). He is hilarious every time he is on the screen, always messy, always eating something. Daniel Day-Lewis also made a few moments funny. For instance, when he tells the story about Ethan Allen. He is basically sitting in his war room with his cabinet and a bunch of other administrative aids and it is a very tense moment. Right in the middle of it, Lincoln begins to tell a story, which is a frequent event in this movie, at which point Edwin Stanton (played by Bruce McGill) interrupts by yelling, “You’re going to tell one of your stories! I can’t stand to hear another one of your stories!” He storms out of the room and silence descends once more, Lincoln then picks back up right where he left off in his story.
Ethan Allen went to England and as the English were wont to do back in the day, they judged us pretty harshly. They thought we were base and coarse and rude. So after visiting with a bunch of high-ranking people there he goes to a particular lord’s house for dinner. After hours of eating a drinking he needs to use the bathroom. When he goes in he realizes that the only decoration in the whole bathroom is a portrait of George Washington. He returns but says nothing of the portrait. The lord and his cronies thought he would and really want a reaction so he finally asks Allen if he noticed the decoration in the bathroom to which Allen responds in the affirmative. He then asks if he thinks that it is in the proper location. Allen again responds yes, which totally confuses the lord. He asks why it’s appropriate and Allen responds that nothing makes an Englishman shit quicker than seeing George Washington.
There were many other bit character performances that were great as well. I’m not going to go into those though. I thought the way they chose to end it was interesting. At first you see him getting ready and you know he’s going to the theater, you know that it’s the night he is assassinated. He takes a long walk down the hallway towards the stairs and we have a wide shot of his back as he saunters away. I thought that it would end there, however, it then cuts to a shot of his youngest son Tad (relative newcomer Gulliver McGrath) at another theater watching a play when all of a sudden a man busts in and yells that the president has been shot. Tad aggressively grabs the railing of the balcony he is sitting in and starts crying and screaming. Cut again to the house where Lincoln was taken to after he was shot. Daniel Day-Lewis is sprawled out on a bed and he is obviously gone. Cut again to his second inauguration speech where he talks about his hope for the future,
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
I highly recommend this movie to anyone. On a letter scale I am giving it an A.