Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I loved the new movie on Lincoln from Steven Spielberg.   In the credits is says it is based on the Doris Kearns Goodwin book Team of Rivals which is a stunningly good book about Lincoln's use of his cabinet.  I am not sure how they made that connection except to the notion that both discuss Lincoln.

This movie is ostensibly about Lincoln's effort to get the 13th Amendment passed before the end of the Civil War and before his second inaugural.   There are many high points to the movie including a short segment where Lincoln justifies why a Constitutional Amendment is critical even with the Emancipation Proclamation.  But there are other high points too.  Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln is convincing.  Some of the reviewers have questioned whether the voice Lewis uses is appropriate - I think it is.

The supporting players including David Staithairn as William Seward, Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens and Bruce McGill as Edward Stanton all turn in fine performances.  Sally Field does a pretty good job of looking haggard as Mary Todd Lincoln.

What was also interesting was the depiction of the lobbyists that Seward and Lincoln used to obtain passage in the House of Representatives.  When this legislative battle took place the Senate had already passed the proposal (which then went to the states for ratification).  There were only 193 members of the House in that Congress with a heavy weight toward GOP members.  Lincoln had to round up a group of lame duck democrats and other minor party members to win the day.   I think this is the first movie I have ever seen that puts the role of lobbyist in a positive light.

There are two other highlights of the movie.  The first is the costuming.   I usually don't notice things like that but all of the characters look like they are a part of that time.   The second is the ending where they do a flashback to part of Lincoln's second inaugural address.  All in all this is an entertaining and informative movie.

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