Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Nation of our Dreams

LINCOLN (2012)

Produced By: Dreamworks, Reliance Entertainment and others
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn and others
Pros: Excellent historic narrative, good use of pause
Cons: Droning speeches and anecdotes, a good part of the movie is said in whispers
Rating: **** (4 of 5)

The history of mankind seems to make an eternal masterpiece of an adaptation. If it was The Iron Lady that traced the history of Britain through the reign of Margaret Thatcher, Lincoln takes us even farther back to the American Civil War. As with any period movie, recreating the look and feel of that age is what defines success. And here, Spielberg has hit the nail on the head.

Daniel Day-Lewis is the true mover in this film: to recreate an American President who is caught between his desire to reunify his divided nation and satisfy his personal distaste against slavery in the face of stiff opposition in the legislature is an immense responsibility that he fulfilled with flying colours. Of course, the supporting actors who make up his family and aides do go into making him what he was, but his performance certainly takes the cake for being the very best.

Recreating the nineteenth century America with its double-standards on slavery and a raging civil war was never going to be easy even for a director like Spielberg, but here he takes care of the finer details: how the ladies dress, how the men pass their time and even how wars are fought hand-to-hand. It is hard to miss the attention to perfection here.

The only problem with the movie is the rather drawling nature of the dialogues: in fact, Day-Lewis spends a significant portion of his time whispering stories to no one in particular, while his wife (Sally Field) sits in the House of Representatives' gallery and also speaks in whispers, which is rather irritating. But the debates in the House are beautiful and Spielberg uses the power of pauses with expertise, making for a wonderful movie, especially for a history buff like myself.

And certainly, deserving of its Oscar nominations! (OTFS)

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