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Lincoln

Let me begin with saying I enjoyed Lincoln the first time around.  As a history buff, I was kept occupied by the action-less movie.  I do not need explosions to overcome poor dialogue.  In essence, I do not need a Michael Bay movie.  Good acting, dialogue and proper setting is what I require.  There is one caveat; I will never watch this movie again.  My $5 spent on this was worth it once.

Watching Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln was a treat.  He pulled this off spectacularly with his walk, mannerisms and stories.  I came across believing I have learned something more about Lincoln from this movie.  I think Lincoln imitating an English accent was too good.  His mannerisms, personality and aura are dead on.

Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln was great.  I observed this character and began to believe she was the spitting image of Mrs. Lincoln.  For her part, Sally’s acting was nicely done.  Any problems with the character were Spielberg’s fault and not hers.

David Strathairn was great as Seward.  The hair was nicely done.  Like the two Lincolns, he became Seward and resembled him nicely.  I only wish his strong anti-slavery stance came through in the movie as well as his total dedication to Lincoln.  Again, Spielberg missed it.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a very nicely done Robert Lincoln, son of the president.  I do not know much about Lincoln other than his being saved by Booth’s brother Edwin.  I find the resemblance of the character and real Lincoln to be very close.

Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens wasn’t bad either.  Mr. Jones really doesn’t resemble Stevens even though his aged face helps him to look like Stevens.  His facial expressions provide life to Stevens and to what Stevens’ expressions may have been.

There are several other characters that could be mentioned but I need to move on.

Lincoln’s stories are wonderful and provide rewards to the viewer during the film.  We are dealing with politics.  Yes, it is Hollywood politics; this is the condensed political argument where vital details are left out.  You would grow bored if it were not for the stories.  Yes, I believe the Ethan Allen story is true.  I’ll need to double-check since it has been years that I read anything about Lincoln.  Mind you, I mean true with Lincoln telling it and not Ethan Allen’s visit to the U.K.

There are factual parts to the movie, though they may not be true for a particular scene in the movie.  I can get along with that and enjoy the movie.  Right now, I can not come up with a few.   I guess I would need to see it, again.

What else held my attention?  Well, the story about the 13th amendment was the key point.  My knowledge on this part of history is weak, and I needed to know something about this.  This movie provides me with research points and a “Hey, I’m Here!” notification to catch my attention.  The writing was well done in my first impression opinion.  Sadly, I initially liked the Braveheart dialogue until I spent time thinking about it.  I’ve never been able to watch that movie to completion.  There is also the scenery that grabs me.  When you combine all of this, the movie is excellent.  I guess I should throw in the political savvy of Lincoln shown in the movie.

Okay, why won’t I ever watch it again?  I am not a perfectionist, but I require accuracy.  Often when I watch a movie based on fact, I research it.  Once I realize the inaccuracies of the movie, my like for the movie wanes.  This happened with BraveheartThe Patriot was a known fictional movie but was overdone with the bad guy British and goody-goody Americans.  Lincoln is a movie from a part of history that I have studied.  From the beginning, I was leaning over to the Educator stating what was wrong.  Honestly, I am angry with Spielberg.  Sometime artistic impressions are best left out.

To begin this attack of mine, I bring up the opening scene where Lincoln is talking to two black soldiers.  This most likely never happened.  These two black soldiers came across as very literate.  Yes, they could be free men, but I doubt it.  Also, they would not find the time to stand around shooting the bull with the President.  Next comes two white soldiers that can recite Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  The black cavalry soldier finishes the address.  Right there the movie took a huge hit with me.  This scene should have never been in the movie.  My getting into the movie fantasy couldn’t start.

Mary Todd Lincoln giving Thaddeus Stevens a tongue lashing at the reception line in the White House was way off.  Again, I was pulled from the movie only to think about what was wrong with the scene.  Sally Field’s character was continually misused in the movie and this scene is one of them.

Lincoln slapping his son, Robert was another big NO.  It stopped my fantasy of being in the movie immediately.  I wanted to slap Spielberg!  I can go along with his artistic license of that scene until the slap occurs.

I found Lincoln’s ride through a battlefield to be entirely out-of-place and false.  What was the purpose of this, I ask?  It served no purpose and never happened.  Whatever Spielberg was trying to convey didn’t work.  He could have shown Lincoln riding through Richmond with blacks cheering him.

Lincoln’s and Mary’s argument was another scene where I felt out-of-place as much as the scene was.  I don’t know if this ever happened, but it didn’t work for me.  Yes, I believe I get it.  Spielberg is giving you information about Mary.

Another glaring error is the part with the Confederate delegation being met by black soldiers.  Want to talk about a big error.  Is Spielberg trying to get black involvement in the movie?!  If so, then put the correct people with the right context in there.  In fact you had them!  They were working in the White House and were active on the freeing of slaves front.

Next in line is the ending.  Spielberg didn’t know when to stop.  He had a good movie going along and blows it.  The 13th amendment has passed and everyone is happy.  That is what the movie is about, a condensed political fight to pass the 13th amendment.  There is a point in the movie where the ending would’ve been perfect.  Lincoln is with some of his cabinet and they are in a celebratory mood when his servant comes to get him for the play.  You see the servant watch Lincoln as he walks out of the White House.  Perfect ENDING!  We all know what will happen afterwards.  There is no need to have poorly constructed scenes of his death and Tad.

I felt the movie was lacking on easily shown facts.  Spielberg didn’t expand on scenes that needed expanding and went too far on scenes with no bearing to the picture.  I don’t need to see people reciting a speech that no one considered worthy enough of repeating until Lincoln’s death.  I do not mind artistic license if it is in context.  Heck!  Saving Private Ryan is purely artistic license when you think about it.  It is good historical fiction.  I think Spielberg should listen to the consultants he had and read some books about the historical topic he’s working on.

I believe the reader will find this movie enjoyable and educational.  I don’t think many people realize when the 13th amendment was passed.  In fact, I believe most high school student have no idea who Seward is.  This movie provides a blurred account of an actual event.  This movie does not tarnish Lincoln’s image but makes him a real person.  The actors and writing are well done and can overcome some of Spielberg’s poor decisions.  To me Lincoln is walking down the steps of the White House to live in history.

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