I have grown up with Steven Spielberg.
I watched “Jaws” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” before I grew to appreciate them. “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” was the first that brought me to tears. My teens were full of the adventures of Indiana Jones. “The Color Purple” and “Always” fittingly bridged my gap to adulthood. Dinosaurs stomped around my early twenties in Jurassic form. Since then he has been more serious, while still managing to appeal to the teenager within with favourites like “Schindler’s List”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “Amistad”, “A.I. Artificial Intelligence”, “Minority Report”, “Catch Me If You Can” and, more recently, “The Adventures of Tintin”.
“Lincoln”, his first collaboration with Daniel Day Lewis, promised to be something else. It did not disappoint.
Two and a half hours of intense negotiations between President and cabinet, between President and Mrs. Lincoln, between President and sons, between Republicans and Democrats, between slaves and masters, between envoys and Generals. Every word is important.
It is a homage to the U.S. collective and honoured memory of Abraham Lincoln, this is not just a misty eyed view of how North America wrestled itself from their bloody civil war but a lesson in the importance and delicacy of the Democratic process. Every story of this type must take liberties but when it is displayed with the mastery of Spielberg’s story telling skills and with a cast able to support Daniel Day Lewis’ calibre of acting it feels like we are watching history.
It is difficult to choose an actor who stood out more; Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Tommy Lee Jones and James Spader all deserve accolades for bringing Tony Kushner’s riveting and text heavy script to life.
But in the hands of Spielberg and Day-Lewis scenes that served merely to push the plot ahead turn into mini masterpieces, one in particular stands out, watch out for Lincoln’s dictation of a telegram and the reference to Euclid.
Still Spielberg has his moments which he seems to put into every movie he makes. Here they are few and far between and highly forgivable.
Catch it in the cinema if you can.