New Releases: Lincoln – (2012)


New Releases: Lincoln - (2012) Genre: Biography, Drama, History, War, Release Date: 2013-03-26 Duration: 150 Min...


New Releases: Lincoln – (2012)

New Releases: Lincoln - (2012)
Genre: Biography, Drama, History, War,
Release Date: 2013-03-26
Duration: 150 Min
Director:

  • Steven Spielberg

The opening scene is a brutal, muddy melee. At close quarters in that wet place, the men on whom the camera closes in are attacking one another with bayonets, swords, fists, or even by holding an enemy’s face in the mud to drown him. Many of the combatants are black. A voice-over says that the rebs (Confederates) “killed every negro soldier they captured at Poison Springs… so at Jenkins Ferry, we decided we weren’t taking no reb prisoners.” The camera cuts to show the speaker, a black soldier in an army camp talking to someone who after a few seconds is revealed to be President Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis). The soldier (Private Harold Green, Colman Domingo) and his comrade (Corporal Ira Clark, David Oyelowo) tell Lincoln their names, ranks, and where they’re headed next (Wilmington). They’re pleased to finally be making as much as the white soldiers, but Clark complains about the lack of commissioned negro officers and sarcastically predicts that whites might be able to tolerate a negro colonel in 50 years — and “in 100 years, the vote.” A couple of white soldiers who heard Lincoln speak at Gettysburg come up; one repeats the beginning of the Gettysburg address and his friend recites the next lines. They’re called away, but Corporal Clark finishes the speech as he walks off.

In January 1865, the recently reëlected Lincoln notes the imminence of the Civil War’s end, wondering out loud what will become of the former slaves. He finds insufficiency, even hypocrisy, in his Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, which had freed most slaves as a war measure but had not made slavery illegal. Only a constitutional amendment illegalizing slavery, he realizes, will spell its permanent end in America.

Debate rages even within his own cabinet, but as Lincoln sees it, the passage of the constitutional amendment cannot wait until the end of the war, for Southern slaves who had been freed as a war measure might fall into forced servitude once again. In an interview with a couple from Missouri, it becomes clear that some, at least, of the popular support for the antislavery amendment is based on the belief that passing the amendment will hasten the end of the war. Under the questioning of Secretary of State William Seward (David Strathairn), they admit that should peace break out without the amendment passing, they would no longer support it, fearing the effects the freed slaves would have on their local economy.

The proposed Thirteenth Amendment has passed in the Senate but does not have sufficient backing in the House of Representatives. Lincoln takes it upon himself and his staff to find the votes needed by the end of January, which requires the granting of many political favors to members of their rival party. Lincoln and Seward will not stoop to outright cash bribery (not knowingly, anyway), but Seward hires three lobbyists to promote their cause by promising government jobs to Democratic members of the House who failed to win reëlection — the lame ducks. The lobbyists are W.N. Bilbo (James Spader), Robert Latham (John Hawkes), and Richard Schell (Tim Blake Nelson).

To pass the amendment, Lincoln needs the support of Preston Blair (Hal Holbrook) and his son Montgomery (Byron Jennings), the influential founders of the Republican Party and leaders of its conservative wing. The Blairs are eager to end the war. As a condition of his support, Preston Blair demands permission to visit the Confederate leadership in Richmond, Virginia, and invite them to send a peace delegation to Washington. This is awkward for Lincoln because he can’t afford to end the war until the amendment passes, but he allows Blair to go secretly to Richmond.

The bedrock of support for the amendment lies at the other end of the party: the Radicals, lead by the creatively abusive Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) of Pennsylvania. The Radicals are abolitionists, and Stevens goes so far as to support full racial equality, including voting rights for black men — an idea that angers and frightens most white people outside his own wing of the Republican Party.

Lincoln’s family life is emotionally fraught. His wife Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field) suffers constant headaches as the result of a carriage accident that she believes was an assassination attempt against her husband. Mary is deeply interested in the passage of the amendment, but Lincoln and Mary are still grieving the death of their son Willie three years before. The Lincoln household includes their youngest son Tad (Gulliver McGrath); Mary’s dressmaker and friend Elizabeth Keckley (Gloria Reuben), a former slave who accompanies Mary on outings to the theater and the visitors’ gallery of the House of Representatives; William Slade (Stephen Henderson), Lincoln’s black valet; and eventually Tad’s older brother Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Robert has been studying law at Harvard but comes home because his self respect demands that he enlist in the Army. Both his parents oppose the idea, being unable to face the prospect of losing another son. Robert eventually prevails upon his father to let him join up; Lincoln placates Mary by attaching Robert to the staff of General Ulysses Grant (Jared Harris), where he’s unlikely to come to harm.

Debate rages in the House of Representatives over the advisability of the amendment. Some politicians see peace as a necessary precursor to the passing of the amendment, but others see the passing of the amendment as a step on the road to the end of the Civil War. Lincoln’s challenge is to play the middle, and he does so very effectively.

The vote on the amendment is nearly postponed due to the rumor that a Confederate peace delegation is in Washington, ready to negotiate. James Ashley (David Costabile), the amendment’s sponsor, is able to deny that a delegation is in Washington or on the way because Lincoln has cannily ordered the Confederate emissaries to be held at Hampton Roads, Virginia. The Thirteenth Amendment passes by two votes after Lincoln himself lobbies a few fence-sitting congressmen.

Congressman Stevens borrows the official copy of the amendment and takes it home to show to his biracial housekeeper and common-law wife, Lydia Smith (S. Epatha Merkerson).

Days after the vote, Lincoln and Seward meet with the Confederate delegation at Hampton Roads. The Confederates make negotiation conditional on Lincoln’s written assurance that the Thirteenth Amendment will not be ratified. Lincoln responds that all the northern states will ratify it, and he has assurances that at least three Confederate states will do the same upon readmission to the Union; this makes the end of slavery a certainty. No agreements are made at the Hampton Roads Conference.

About two months later, General Robert E. Lee (Christopher Boyer) surrenders at Appomattox Court House. Lincoln’s double coup has paved the way for the peaceful readmission of the Confederate states to the Union, but he will not live to see it, as he is assassinated days after the surrender. In the closing scene, Lincoln delivers his second inaugural address.

Star:


Daniel Day-Lewis

Sally Field

David Strathairn

Joseph Gordon-Levitt


OR

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3 responses to “New Releases: Lincoln – (2012)”

  1. Steven I. Ramm "Steve Ramm "Anything Phon... says:
    71 of 76 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Landmark film – You will definitely want the four-disc Blu-ray version with 53 extra minutes of features., March 18, 2013
    By 
    Steven I. Ramm “Steve Ramm “Anything Phon… (Phila, PA USA) –
    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Lincoln (Four Disc Blu-ray / DVD + Digital Copy) (Blu-ray)

    I saw the film when it played in the theater last year and was riveted to my seat. Even nature calling me to visit the rest room had to wait. It was Daniel Day Lewis’s presence, Tony Kushner’s words and , Steven Spielberg’s direction that kept me there for nearly 2 ½ hours. This film is – in my opinion – a masterpiece and, like Spielberg’s earlier film “Schindler’s List”, this film will serve for years (even generations) in teaching student about an important moment in history. But there are already 155 reviews of the film posted here (and I don’t want to repeat what others have said.) I’ll concentrate on the DVD and Bluray releases of the film.
    Amazon has a general policy of grouping ALL the reviews of a film together and displaying them under all the formats. Reviews start when a fil plays in theaters and then often goes to the Amazon Instant (streaming version). So I often recommend – when posting my reviews – that you sort by “most recent” first and then look to see which version the reviewer is discussing. This is a review of the 4-disc Blu-ray+ DVD+Digital Copy, but it should guide you in your purchase, I hope.
    Disney (the distributor of the home video) is issuing it in three different “formats”. The single DVD contains the film and 9-minute “featurette” titled “The Journey to Lincoln” with the major “players”. The 2-Disc Blueray+DVD just adds another (4-minute) featurette – this one on how they filmed in Richmond Virginia. The only advantage to this version is that you will get higher resolution image. The FOUR-disc version adds a digital copy but – more importantly – adds a “Bonus Disc) with four more featurettes which add still another 53 minutes of background to the film. The longest (at 27 minutes) is “Living With Lincoln” where we follow the filming from beginning to end with interviews from every one of the major actors plus the producer and Spielberg. “Crafting The Past” (10 minutes) covers production design and makeup) while “In Lincoln’s Footsteps” (!6 minutes) all too-briefly covers the score but have a great section on how the sound designer located just the right pocket watch to record for the sound of the ticking in the film (I won’t spoil the surprise by revealing the answer. These featurettes tend to overlap, slightly, and – though each plays as a separate “feature” – as a whole they provide lots of great info after you have seen the film. And I highly suggest that after watching them on the separate Bonus Disc, you click on the last “option” called “Credits”. You see the credits but the visuals on the screen are a nice extra bonus.
    So, If you just want to see DDL’s Academy Award-winning performance, you can just get the single-disc DVD but if you want to delve deeper into the film, you’ll want the 4 Disc “Combo Pack Super Set” (Disney’s words; not mine).

    I hope you found this review both informative and helpful!
    Steve Ramm
    “Anything Phonographic”

  2. Giordano Bruno says:
    500 of 569 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    I Didn’t Plan to Write a Review …, January 3, 2013
    By 
    Giordano Bruno (Here, There, and Everywhere) –

    This review is from: Lincoln (DVD)

    Not when there are already dozens of reviews, some excellent, some abysmal. Not when the subject involves so many antecedents and complexities. I couldn’t imagine doing the film, or myself, justice within the scope of a few hundred words. However, an amazon friend, a citizen of Germany working in China, has sent me a request to explain why I found this film so successful. Here’s my answer, which I might as well share:

    “You might need to have spent some of your youth celebrating Lincoln’s birthday, or noticing Lincoln’s picture on the penny, or reading some of the pop boys’ books about the War. You might need to have read Walt Whitman’s Civil War poetry, especially “When Lilacs Last etc”, and more than once. Lincoln is a powerful shamanic totemic figure in the American mind, and seeing him made human by DDL is like being told yes, there is a heaven for pets or yes any child can become president. But the film handles the assassination with the greatest cinematic subtlety. Of course I’ve know about the assassination in great detail all my reading life. Of course I know the Gettysburg Address by heart (though generations younger than I am probably don’t). Well, there came that moment in the film when the capstone had been placed, when the passage of the 13th Amendment had been achieved — and any blathering fool who still argues that “the War was not about slavery” should have his mouth taped shut as teachers used to do in the USA in ‘the good old days’ — that moment when in effect Lincoln had become immortal morally, and at that moment I sat in the theater agonized by foreknowledge, horrified by anticipating the next scene, which could only be the assassination. Oh no! No! Not now! let the Glory wave a short while! I’m not a guy who cries in cinemas, but I couldn’t stop myself from bawling as if a close friend or sib were dying in my arms. Lincoln’s death became a personal tragedy for me, for the first brief time, at that moment in the film. My dry historical awareness of the tragedy will never be merely intellectual again. Wait! Not yet! Spare me the scene of his death! I WANT HIM TO LIVE!

    And the film did spare us. The indirect treatment of the assassination was superb, humane, decent film-making. Proof, I’d argue, that “less” is sometimes “more”, that dispassion can be more poignant than blaring cinemascopic 3-D amped-up violence.

    Perhaps not everyone in the audience was as affected as I was. There are people who quibble with DDL’s portrayal of Lincoln as insufficiently awesome. There are people who ardently despise Lincoln as a tyrant and desecrator of “our” Constitution. My response to the film was personal and private, linked to my own life experience in the Civil Rights movement. But that response was more intense than I expected when I bought my ticket. More intense than at any film I’ve seen in many years.”

  3. Harold Wolf "Doc" says:
    206 of 243 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    5 Spielberg thumbs UP– WAY UP, November 17, 2012
    By 
    Harold Wolf “Doc” (Wells, IN United States) –
    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)
      

    This review is from: Lincoln (DVD)

    Historians will enjoy. Fictional portrayal as real as it can get. Lincoln, the man & his troubles in the last days. Spielberg sprays his magic wand glitter over every aspect of this film.
    Cast is outstanding;
    cinematography is spellbinding in itself,
    the music period precision,
    costuming exacting right down to the sweat and body odor.
    Story is compelling and edgy.
    However, I found myself laughing heartily during strange moments at very funny lines mixed into the dialogue of late Civil War days. It points to just how much of the black prejudice story has remained constant. Congress fights with words and actions, with little based on ethic . . . sound familiar. I don’t know if the screen play/book writers deserve that credit or did Spielberg touch those aspects too?
    I’ll refrain from reviewing the book here. This is the film/DVD listing. This film adaptation will be a blockbuster.
    DVD SUBTITLES in English, Spanish, and French.

    Much will be said of the near perfection in stature and acting of Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrayal of Lincoln. He plays the statesman, the angry husband, Christian, a manipulator, and a heart-wrenching depiction of loving father. Crawling on the floor to his sleeping son before the fire hearth brings a near tear.
    Sally Fields gives what surely will be a nominated performance as Lincoln’s wife, elevating her acting career to another new height.
    The list of stars and significant performance highlights is endless. It’s impossible to cover all that happens in this 2 ½ hour film that moves with such suspense and action that it seems less than half that length. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll beg for more when the credits roll.

    Set in 1865, almost 150 years ago, but this film puts you right there in Lincolns chair, his office, his boots and hat, most convincingly. Lincoln will win you over, even if he has to pay for your support. He’s obsessed, just like I am at now wanting to OWN this production, even though I watched it just yesterday in the opening theater matinee. It’s that good.
    If you liked WAR HORSE, you’ll like LINCOLN.
    Different wars, same director/producer. This historical drama is a heart drama, and regardless of age, your heart will be touched in some way.


Economic Flash News


MONEY MARKETS-Futures support view of Fed raising rates in mid-2015

NEW YORK (Frankfurt: HX6.F - news) , June 18 (Reuters) - U.S. short-term interest rates futures ended higher on Wednesday as the latest forecasts among Federal Reserve policymakers supported the view the central bank may increase rates in mid-2015. The rate forecasts coincided with policymakers' decision to further shrink the Fed's monthly purchases of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities to reduce stimulus to the economy, which policymakers expected to expand more slowly in 2014 due to a contraction in the first quarter. "If the economy continues on its current path, the first rate increase should come in the second or third quarter of 2015," said Mike Cullinane, head of Treasuries trading at D.A. Davidson in St. Petersburg, Florida. Prices on U.S. rates futures for 2014 and 2015 were choppy and ended modestly higher on perceived dovish remarks from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen during her news conference.