Saturday, November 24, 2012
Spielberg's 'Lincoln': An Extraordinary Movie
The riveting and brilliant script by Tony Kushner, based on Doris Kerns Goodwin's Team of Rivals, covers four months near the end of President Abraham Lincoln's life when he was fighting hard to get the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (freeing the slaves) passed. The writing is as a much a star in this production as anything else, and there is plenty of competition for "star" status.
Spielberg's direction is all but flawless: measured, dark, thoughtful and often very funny, as you would expect from Lincoln. Several actors had me whispering "Academy Award" as the movie progressed. Daniel Day Lewis' Lincoln is, of course, exemplary. Sally Field nearly steals the movie as Mary Lincoln, a woman with more problems than you can possibly imagine. David Stratharian, as Secretary of State Seward, is forceful and often dominating. There are a dozen others (including Tommy Lee Jones) who have moments of brilliance--all combining to give a look, a feel and a sound that rings with authenticity. (By the way, look for Kevin Kline as a wounded soldier in a tiny cameo role.)
Makeup, lighting, set design, sound ... all of it are first level, but it's the story that is simply extraordinary and worth the two and a half (three if you run into the technology glitch we hit) hours you'll spend in the theater, living a piece of American history that could have come from the halls of Congress yesterday. You'll recognize many of today's personalities and you'll see a House of Representatives that is the equal of today's in its absolute inability to understand its responsibility to the American public.
Heck of an experience.