News / Arts & Entertainment

Director Steven Spielberg Brings New Life to President Abraham Lincoln

Penelope Poulou
Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln deviates from the traditional portrayal of the 16th U.S. president by fleshing out the mind of a person willing to risk everything for the abolition of slavery. Spielberg based his film on parts of Team of Rivals, a book by Doris Kearns Goodwin. He makes Abraham Lincoln relevant today by presenting a cunning political mind navigating Washington's all too familiar divisions, gridlock, and power plays.

For about a century, Lincoln was portrayed as a monumental figure. In D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of A Nation, he is statuesque. In John Ford’s 1939 film, Young Mr. Lincoln, he is folksy and robotic.

Spielberg’s Lincoln is different.  

“I was determined to make a movie about a working president not a posing president," Spielberg said.

We watch the president first ending slavery and then the war.

In the museum at Ford’s Theater, where the 16th President was assassinated, historian Eric Martin explains how Lincoln's thought process evolved.

“His first and foremost objective when the war began was not the freeing of the slaves but ultimately the preservation of the Union. Lincoln realizes that in order to attain his military goal of ultimately preserving and saving the Union, the question of slavery will have to be addressed,” Martin said.

The film focuses on the last four months of his presidency.

In the movie, the jockeying for votes in Congress to pass the amendment feels eerily similar to today’s wrangling on Capitol Hill.  

The arguments in the House of Representatives were bitter.

The film turns to Lincoln’s relationships with his wife and kids, his convictions and constant self-examination. Daniel Day-Lewis offers an Oscar-worthy performance as the 16th President. Not only does he bear an uncanny resemblance to the president, he inhabits the character.

“In his book, Euclid says, ‘this is self-evident.’ You see there it is, even in that 2000 year-old book of mechanical law. It is a self-evident truth that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other,” Day-Lewis said.

"It's the man himself that invites you. Because he was so open. That was one of the most beautiful surprises, getting to know him, was how insanely accessible that man was. The time was actually physically very dangerous in his case to be accessible but the White House was an ever open door," Day-Lewis said.

Spielberg’s Lincoln will head to the Oscars. But more important, it will make history.

You May Like

Video Anti-Muslim Sponsor of Texas Cartoon Contest Draws Ire

Pamela Geller's supporters say she speaks truth about sensitive topic, while critics say she preaches 'that Islam is inherently evil' More

East Meets West in Exhibition Showing Chinese Influence on Fashion

Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition juxtaposes influence of art, imagery and culture, from Imperial China to the present day, on Western fashion and design More

South Africa Begins New Love Affair With Vinyl Records

Enthusiasts say the 'rebirth' of vinyl is resulting in a rebirth of music in South Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Zack Mandell
December 04, 2012 10:34 AM
This was a really interesting <a href="http://www.movieroomreviews.com/">movie</a> for me. I was really surprised when I heard about it but was really impressed with it

by: Violet P. Levinson from: Martinez, CA 94553
November 29, 2012 6:25 PM
I appreciate those people who used this opportunity to illuminate the negative aspects of Lincoln's power while in office. However, the review of a film is usually focused on aspects of the film itself, and those people involved in portraying the singular purpose of the film with dramatic structure. Did the director pursue this purpose with clarity and intelligence is my only criteria. Thanks for the history lesson, anyhow, but I don't expect films to be history lessons. My only expectation of a Hollywood film that is not a documentary, is to raise awareness of some, not all, facts in a historical context.

by: Rick Kohn from: Long Beach, CA
November 27, 2012 3:26 AM
I watched the movie and read up on Abraham Lincoln afterwards, and found a lot of flaws. Best review of this film is by Alec Ryan.

by: Violet Levinson from: Martinez, CA
November 24, 2012 10:09 PM
What an inspiring interpretation of the man we all know as Abraham Lincoln. This movie is relevant to the times in which we now live.
It illuminates the basic structure of our government in contentious times and brings to life important figures of times past connecting to this year of political and social progress. Spielberg interprets not only the politics of those years but also shows aspects of the relationships of Mr. Lincoln and his family involving energetic disagreements with his wife. In this film Mr. Lincoln lives and breathes . I became emotionally connected to the man and his struggles. I cheered when his battle was won and I cried when his life was cut short. By all means this film is the best picture of the year in every respect---its theme, its structure, and all the elements of the drama.
In Response

by: Rain Saturday from: Savannah, Ga
November 27, 2012 10:13 PM
Someone asked me if I was going to see the new President Lincoln movie....had to laugh. Lincoln of hollywood movies is a great American Myth, propaganda. He was a multi~tasking president though. He freed the slaves, "The Great Emancipator" which was a great thing.....I mean after all, how can you have a country where "ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL", when they really aren't....right? SO, he freed the slaves with one hand & ordered the continuation of genocide against the Native American Indians for their lands with the other. ~"On December 26, 1862, the Great Emancipator ordered the largest mass execution in American History, where the guilt of those to be executed was entirely in doubt. Regardless of how Lincoln defenders seek to play this, it was nothing more than murder to obtain the land of the Santee Sioux & to appease his political cronies in Minnesota." Originally, "authorities in Minnesota wanted 303 Sioux males executed (these men were found guilty, without proper legal representation & a short trial of about 10 minutes each)." "Lincoln was concerned with how this would play with the Europeans, whom he was afraid were about to enter the war on the side of the South. He offered the following compromise to the politicians of Minnesota: They would pare the list of those to be hung down to 39. In return, Lincoln promised to kill or remove every Indian from the state and provide Minnesota with 2 million dollars in federal funds. He only owed the Sioux 1.4 million for the land."
"In 1862, the Santee Sioux of Minnesota grew tired of waiting for the 1.4 million dollars they had been promised for the sale of 24 million acres of land to the federal government in 1851. Appeals to President Lincoln fell on deaf ears. What made this even more egregious to the Sioux was the invasion of this yet unpaid for land by thousands of white settlers. Then, with a very poor crop in august of 1862, many of the Indians were hungry & facing starvation with the upcoming winter."
"When Lincoln outright refused to pay the owed money, he had a Civil war to finance the Indians revolted. Lincoln assigned General John Pope to quell the uprising and he announced at the beginning of his campaign: "It is my purpose to utterly exterminate the Sioux. They are to be treated as maniacs or wild beasts, & by no means as people with whom treaties or compromise can be made. Lincoln certainly did not challenge this statement." ~Micheal Gaddy, Sierra Times 2003
People have always tried to rewrite history....all of our history books are mostly pure American propaganda.......they have whitewashed (yes, pun intended) our own National history, this doesn't make it true or accurate. Actually, it just makes it FICTIONALIZED~ based on real characters. As far as the truth, one may whitewash it, ignore it, lock it away or bury it. No matter how long it may take, the truth always uncovers itself. I am Algonkin, & Cherokee & whatever else ancestry from Europe came before they reached the shores of Virginia.....NO, I am not full blood Native Indian, BUT, I am very proud of my Native American Indian roots here in this land~ so haters on both sides can hate. My heart is pure Native, I am sick, tired & ashamed of the injustices & atrocities brought upon our original citizens, the first citizens of this land. AS a country, as a nation, we will never be truly great & we will never truly be free until WE ALL ARE FREE. I am surprised that Steven Spielberg, after his work w/ Schindler's List, being of Jewish descent would continue the propagandized version of our American history. Just as the Jews endured the Holocaust, genocide & concentration camps, our Native American Indians have endured the same Holocaust~ the American Holocaust, except the have endured it for hundreds of years now & still to this day have less civil rights, less than optimal living conditions & lack of healthcare the average common U.S. citizen is entitled to.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailandi
X
May 05, 2015 5:50 PM
Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailand

Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Russia's 'Victory Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

ussia is preparing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, known since the Soviet era as “The Great Patriotic War,” with a massive parade on May 9th of military hardware and millions of medals handed out to veterans or their relatives. But critics say the Soviet-style display of power and nationalism overshadows tragic scars during and after the war that still influence politics and foreign policy, especially in the current Ukraine crisis.
Video

Video WWII Anniversary Brings Old Friends and New Worries

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has special significance, with Russia becoming more assertive in Ukraine and sending its military planes to the edges of western countries’ airspace. Changes in the geostrategic balance and the transatlantic relationship are felt across the continent, not least in German towns that have hosted U.S. military bases since the defeat of Nazi Germany. VOA’s Al Pessin visited Schweinfurt, Germany, where a large base closed last year.
Video

Video Abraham Lincoln Funeral Re-created for 150th Civil War Anniversary

Over the last four years, commemorative events to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War have brought thousands of visitors to battlefields and historic landmarks across the country. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, the final event in the Civil War's sesquicentennial honors the final journey home of the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”