Lincoln focuses on the man’s obsession with getting the 13th Amendment pushed through Congress before the Civil War ended. Abe was honest, but would see his mission of obliterating slavery accomplished by any means necessary. His drive and the toll it took on his family life are explored in great detail.
Director Steven Spielberg takes what could have been a disastrously boring two and a half hours of non-stop dialogue and somehow makes it engaging and tolerable. The success of the film is based around Spielberg’s casting of Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role. Day-Lewis owns every moment he’s on screen and demands your attention with every word he speaks. He’s merely the cherry on top of a brilliant and dedicated cast that includes James Spader, Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Fields, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Hawkes, David Strathairn, and many more.
Although they only took up a few moments of screen time, the scenes of the Civil War battlefields bore a lasting impression on me. The savageness of hand-to-hand combat was hard to watch. These soldiers fought hand-to-hand, which made it more personal. It wasn’t a faceless war like today’s, where we just drop bombs on each other and never have direct contact with the people we’re fighting.
Lincoln’s high-definition audio and video transfer couldn’t be any better. The picture gives viewers the best visual experience possible and highlights the extravagant set and costume designs. The 7.1 surround sound guarantees every uttered piece of dialogue, whispered or shouted, is heard over John Williams’ incredible score. The battle scene is effectively chaotic, noisy, and nerve-wracking as well.
There are two short featurettes included in the 2-Disc Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack. Steven Spielberg and his team of filmmakers discuss the shooting location and making of the film in “The Journey to Lincoln” and “A Historic Tapestry: Richmond, Virginia.” They both clock in at about 13 minutes combined.
The fact that I stayed awake through two and a half hours of talking is a true testament of how well-paced and captivating Lincoln is. I’m really not one for talky and long-winded movies, but Spielberg’s devoted obsession with the historical figure and Janusz Kaminski’s masterful cinematography make the movie stand out and demand your undivided attention. It’s a movie that requires multiple viewings, as there is so much being said so quickly that you’re guaranteed to miss something important.