On DVD/Blu-ray – Review: Lincoln (2012)
by NIR SHALEV
Lincoln takes place during the last month and a half of the American Civil War. We witness as President Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) works ceaselessly to end the war by focusing on the slavery aspect of it. The Confederates had fought long and hard to keep slavery in America and Lincoln figures that if he can influence the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment he can hasten the end of the war. The film’s focus on Lincoln’s focus on the Thirteenth Amendment is new to me. It’s also rather inspiring.
The screenplay is adapted from the book Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Only a fraction of it is in this film however. That’s because by focusing on only one aspect of what Lincoln did to end the war the story becomes far simpler to explain to those that aren’t very politically minded (like myself). Also, the film is 150 minutes long. If it were to encompass the rest of the book it’d be a seven hour marathon, much like Bondarchuk’s version of War and Peace (1967).
Director Steven Spielberg here showcases a very personal look at Abraham Lincoln as a middle-aged man, an American president, a father, and a husband. In all four categories, Lincoln’s passion is strong and is brilliantly presented by Day-Lewis. His Oscar-winning performance is very subdued and low key, but honest, touching, and earthly.
Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography represents the humanity and earthly qualities of Lincoln’s character by shooting the film in a way that makes it look like it was shot with natural lighting. Interiors, although sometimes brightly lit by daylight, are generally dark and dust is ever present (much like in Scorsese’s Hugo). High production values and art direction also helped me to feel like I was actually there.
There are several moments throughout the film in which Lincoln tells different groups of people scene-specific short stories. Every single one of them relates to the happening in the scenes, through clever use of metaphor, and Day-Lewis’ personification of Lincoln make those scenes feel wholesome and truthful. During some parts I even felt nostalgic.
I really enjoyed this film. I fell in love with it the moment that I heard Day-Lewis’ verbal interpretation of Lincoln (which apparently is closer to home than ever before in a movie) and it’s just so well shot and acted on all accounts that there’s little to nothing to complain about. The rest of the cast includes Sally Field (Oscar nominated for playing Mrs. Lincoln), David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones (Oscar nominated for playing Thaddeus Stevens), John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson, and Jared Harris to name a few.
Simply put, this is a terrific film on all accounts. It’s one of 2012’s very best films and comes very highly recommended by the Commentary Track staff. For history buffs or just plain ‘ol patriots, this is a blind buy. And as a Canadian, I have no problem owning this film. It made me feel good while watching it.
Lincoln is available in a single disc DVD and two disc and four disc Blu-ray editions. Extras are various making-of short features, of which there are four more on the four disc set than the two disc set.
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