Skip to comments.Spielberg’s Lincoln is a Grand Tribute to a Masterful Leader
Posted on 11/16/2012 7:29:27 AM PST by Kaslin
Steven Spielbergs Lincoln is a different film than one would expect from the brilliant filmmaker responsible for unforgettable films like Schindlers List and Saving Private Ryan. Unlike those two features, Lincoln takes place on a much smaller scale.
When its trailer arrived in theaters several months ago, many viewers undoubtedly believed that the film would attempt to tell Abraham Lincolns complete story, focusing on a young Illinois lawyer who became president and saved the Union from self-destruction. But this movie isnt about that, nor is it simply a noble and simplistic tribute to the 16th President. The film is, instead, a well-told story about a good man who cajoled, manipulated and bravely fought to end slavery through the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. p>
Despite the fact that the North was winning the Civil War when the amendment was passionately debated in Congress a few months after Lincoln's reelection, its passage was far from assured. To pass it, the president and his team of former rivals would have to overcome naysayers, pacifists and Democrats alike who were willing to do whatever was necessary to prevent it from becoming law.
The film begins with a brief battle sequence that shows the noble president watching as soldiers prepare for engagement. In the midst of the fighting, young men- who may lose their lives in a matter of momentslook lovingly at the quiet figure who sits above them. Like fans approaching their idol, they quote back to Lincoln portions of the Gettysburg Address and stand in quiet wonder at a man who they recognize is forever changing the course of their country.
As the film continues, it focuses less on the battlefield of war and more on the political landscape where the fight to pass the amendment is taking place. Instead of the grim details of war, Spielberg puts the camera in the dark halls of Congress where threats, manipulations and lies are all used to get legislators to say yes.
As the inevitable victory of the North over the South approaches, some legislators and members of Lincolns administration- including Secretary of State and one-time political rival William Steward (David Strathairn)argue fervently that ending the war quickly should be their highest priority. Ending slavery, they state, is a secondary concern. Others, including the powerful Congressman Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) are more focused on punishing the South after the war than anything else.
Lincoln rejects both ideas. He rejects the idea that ending the war at the cost of enduring more years of slavery is necessary and he disputes the notion that punishing the South after the war has ended is a noble goal. He is a man who yearns for peace but who is unwilling to compromise his values to achieve it.
Throughout the movie, Lincoln is depicted as something we dont often view him as: a politician. Like a great politician, he is able to tell a grand story to a group of people with each believing that the story was intended for them. But unlike many politicians, Lincoln wasat considerable risk to both his political fortunes and his legacy willing to fight for an unpopular position simply because above everything else, he knew it was right.
Many will likely dislike how Spielberg has settled his story around something as seemingly simple as the passage of an amendment. But in deciding to tell the story on a small scale, the director has brought attention to Lincoln the man-- rather than Lincoln the legend-- and made this great leader into a relatable figure who achieved greatness by never backing down from the principle that all men should be free.
Does the film ever mention that Lincoln was a Republican?
It’s amazing. I was at a pretty large wedding several years ago, and after dinner the DJ ran a trivia contest. One question was “Who was the first Republican president.” I was the only one of the guests who knew the answer.
hmmm....this must be what “they” refer to as “dumbing-down” “the folks”.....
Going by what we can hear from the movie previews, I think they might be the first film makers to accurately portray Lincoln’s voice. By all of the accounts that I’ve read, Lincoln had a higher pitched voice. Most all of the documentaries, TV shows, and movies I’ve seen have Lincoln with a deep ‘grandfatherly’ voice, which is actually quite the opposite.
I also don’t like how he has always been portrayed as being some sort of saintly figure, while he was a tyrant, IMHO. However, as we all know, the victors(and liberals) write the history of events.
You can’t pay me to watch this. They’ll spin their revisionist message in there somehow. Not one thin dime for Hollywood.
It was screened at the White Crib. Biden was surprised that Lincoln was shot at the end.
I noticed that from the trailer - Lincoln’s voice was higher which was true to definition. I got a laugh out of a critic who complained about it in a review. They always think they are so smart and elitist educated, yet they don’t know half.
The thing is, how accurate is the rest of the film? I’ve heard plenty that Lincoln was not so keen on freeing the slaves - he didn’t do it in the north, and at one point wanted to send them all back to Africa. His focus was to save the Union, not free the slaves.
My family will never pay for any Spielberg-Tom Hanks product;
They make movies about feats of courage and bravery—Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, The Pacific—then turn around and donate the maximum to Obama’s campaign, who is on a jihad to destroy the United States and its military
Lincoln’s unwillingness to compromise on principles likely led to more deaths of prisoners of war, on both sides; after he quit agreeing to anymore exchanges of prisoners as long as the Confederate government continued to insist on separate and unequal terms for black prisoners.
During that period conditions at the notorious Andersonville prison camp in Georgia continued to deteriorate - while northern ministers pleaded with Lincoln to agree with the south’s terms on prisoner exchanges - and it was during that time that an uncle of my mom’s grandfather died - from starvation followed by suicide - at Andersonville.
Conditions at prisoner of war camps were horrible, on both sides of the war. Disease and illness was rampant in the northern camps and food was scarce in the south. Andersonville just happened to be one of the worst, in part because of its very large size. And as much as the suffering moved Lincoln personally, he would not agree to separate terms for black prisoners. He argued that doing so made a mockery of the war effort itself.
It was as unpopular of a decision in the north as it was in the south. I think Lincoln carried within himself his own suffering for some decisions he felt he had to make, unpopular as they sometimes were, and knowing they did not relieve suffering he knew would continue. It is the suffering Lincoln that I see in the late photos of him.
There is one major point that many are missing.
Even after a civil war, the President, the congress nor the Supreme Court could end slavery in this nation. It took a constitutional amendment to do that.
How things have changed. Now all three branches of government go willy nilly making fundamental changes in our society, many illegal, many against the will of the people and many unconstitutional.
We are now at the point where our constitutional means whatever those in power says it means.
The last defense of our freedom from a powerful government was the Supreme Court to keep the other two branches in line.
We no longer have that protection. The importance of the last election was about who would be nominated to the next seat on the supreme court. That selection will most likely be made by Obama and get rubber stamped by the Democrat controlled Senate.
All is not lost. There is one last thing that can be done. The states must begin writing constitutional amendments to get the federal government back under control.
One of the first I would suggest would be to return the choice for Senators back to the states.
The second things would be to limit the commerce clause to what the founders intended, a way to control trade between states not as a hammer to beat the citizens into submission.
The third would be to limit a President to engage in military action without a full declaration of war. Allow 30 days if this nation is attacked but no longer without a declaration of war.
The fourth would be to restrict the payment of public money. Welfare should not be a federal government’s responsibility.
Fifth, raise voting age back to 21. Face it, 18 year old do not have the maturity to make some decisions. And don’t give me the old “if they are old enough to fight for the country they are old enough to vote” crap. As an 18 year infantryman in Viet Nam I still was not allowed to vote until I was 21 -
I can think of a few more. But these are just a start.
Is this what the writer (and Speilberg) is saying?
“But unlike many politicians, OBAMA was at considerable risk to both his political fortunes and his legacy, willing to fight for the unpopular position on AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE simply because, above everything else, he knew it was right.”
“But in deciding to tell the story on a small scale, the director has brought attention to OBAMA the man - rather than OBAMA the legend - and made this great leader into a relatable figure who achieved greatness by never backing down from the principle that all men should have HEALTH INSURANCE.
Everything out of Hollywood should be considered suspect. I’ll never feed the beast again.
Require that all Federal budgets be balanced, except in time of war or other national emergency.
IMHO Lincoln is vastly over rated.
I do not see him as a “great” president.
He presided over the deaths of 625,000 Americans who killed each other in the 18611865 war (Civil War, War of Northern Aggression - take your pick). Not to mention the more than 300,000 wounded.
A great president would have found a less bloody way to resolve the conflict.
At the very least, a great president would have reigned in the northern forces when the ultimate outcome became clear.
But Lincoln allowed his generals to pursue a scorched earth policy out of pure vengeance and vindictiveness. They needlessly terrorized and plundered the civilian population of the south.
Even after 150 years, the rancor. distrust, and resentment resulting from his poor judgement, weak leadership and these destructive actions plague the nation to this day,
You've mistaken a "peg", a "McGuffin", for a real reason.
Very wilful people intent on getting their way always throw out a plausible reason -- a peg -- for their obduracy, to fob off objectors and reasonable people who recognize unreasonableness when they see it. That's what Lincoln did with everything, and FDR and Lyndon Johnson after him.
Lincoln refused to continue prisoner exchanges because he knew that the net military advantage would accrue to the North despite the grisly experiences awaiting prisoners as they piled up in the camps. He was determined to hang on to every Southern prisoner and prevent Southerners' return to service. That was the only reason for his decision, and its consequences.
I agree with every thing you said. There was and is no excuse to allow the generals reek havoc on an already defeated South. They raped and pillaged and caused mass destruction on a helpless people.
I was sent tickets to a free screening of this movie and and I could not give them away. Libs love Lincoln because he asserted federal power and used the his power to keep people in line.
“But unlike many politicians, [OBAMA] was at considerable risk to both his political fortunes and his legacy, willing to fight for the unpopular position on [AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE] simply because, above everything else, he knew it was right.”
That about gets it -- not having seen the film yet, I would guess it's a paean to "strong leadership" (as opposed to Constitutional leadership, which is "weak"). How "rising above" scruples, principles, and anything else is sometimes "necessary" ..... as when making an omelette, as Stalin once pointed out.
Fortunately for Spielberg, Obama has been compared -- and has compared himself, helpfully -- to Lincoln often enough already, that people will "get it".
A good political movie, like a good crisis, ought never to go to waste.
I wonder if they actually intended this film for release during the election campaign, but fell behind schedule.