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Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Mike B. - 11-18-2012 12:13 PM

I don't know if anyone started a thread on this, and I don't know if this is the right place for it but I would love to hear from people who have seen the movie and their thoughts.

FWIW, Here is my reivew. I saw the movie yesterday.

(***Spoiler alert-If you haven't seen the movie yet and plan to, you might want to stop reading since some plot surprises are revealed.***)

I give the movie four stars. It was a top of the line production. The acting was stupendous. No surprise that Daniel Day-Lewis was very good. Tommy Lee Jones deserves an Oscar for supporting actor as Thad Stevens. I am not sure about Sally Field in this sense. I don't think she did as well as Mary Lincoln as the other two did, though perhaps people will differ. She is a great actress and the criticism that she was too old to play Mary I think was not worth worrying about. Sally Field is 66 years old but certainly looks much younger than her years and is still an attractive woman. There are a few scenes in the film that are going to be controversial about Mary and Lincoln talking about her mental health.

Special mention:

1. There is a closing scene which is simply wonderful and very moving in which Thad Stevens goes home to his housekeeper (many know the story of their relationship) with a copy of the passed 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. This is very effective and induced tears in some audience members.

2. I liked that Lincoln was "earthy" in the film as he was in real life. He is not afraid of using a bit of profanity and telling some toilet humor jokes. This made people like James Randall agahst perhaps that a man who could write such beautiful prose as the Second Inaugural Address could talk this way, but I see no contradiction.

3. The film did show a real tenderness between Robert and Mary. Jason Emerson's chapter in the "Mary Lincoln Enigma" (full disclosure: which was co-edited by me and had great contributions from people who post on this site like Donna McCreary) shows that the two had a very loving releationship until certain later unpleasentess.

4. The loud and raucous nature of Congress in the 19th century is shown well. It was not the overly formal Congress of today.

A few "quibbles"

1. I still think they played Robert Lincoln as too much of a prig and too distant from his father. At one point, Lincoln slaps Robert in the face. The film-makers didn't have the benefit I guess of Jason Emerson's definitive biography of Robert so that might have worked against them.

2. The least effective scene for me was in the very beginning when a black and a white soldier recited the Gettysburg Address to Lincoln. This seems a bit contrived and a little too "Hollywood."

3. I wish the assassination was handled a little differently as in that some context to it was given to the audience. I realize this is not an assassination film. And I think it was effective to not show the actual shooting of Lincoln but to show Tad hearing about it. I also think it was effective to show the death scene in the Peterson House. However, the film treated it like a random act of violence. Since the movie does make mention of Lincoln's last speech on April 11th in which he comes out in favor of some black voting rights, a quick cut to Booth saying, "That means n----- citizenship. That is the last speech he will ever make." would have fit the theme of the movie exactly and not have taken too much time and given the audience the knowledge that the assassination was a profoundly political act, that indeed had a lot to do with Lincoln's actions about slavery.

4. The man who played Alex Stephens at the Hampton Roads Peace Conference was very good and looked very much like him. I just wish more time was spent on this event. (I know the movie was already 2 and 1/2 hours long so I am sure good stuff wound up on the editing room floor.)

(These are minor quibbles from what I thought was a great film.) So does anyone elese have a review?

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - RJNorton - 11-18-2012 02:35 PM

This is not a review, rather a question about the movie. Has anyone read that Mary Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckly attended the discussions in the House on the 13th Amendment? I am not saying it didn't happen, only that I do not recall ever reading that.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - John E. - 11-18-2012 03:02 PM

I'm sorry Roger, I have no clue about Mary or Elizabeth Keckley attending the hearings. I wondered the same thing.

I thought the movie was terrifically acted but the subject matter was very slow.

There were wonderful acting performances turned in all the way around but specifically from DDL, Tommy Lee Jones and James Spader.

Daniel Day Lewis not only captured Lincoln's voice but he had his walk and posture down as well.

I was perplexed and disappointed as to why Spielberg chose to totally ignore how old Abe was able to slay vampires with an array of weapons. It's just beyond me. Big Grin

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - wsanto - 11-19-2012 10:08 PM

I thought the movie was excellent. Daniel Day Lewis really brought to life the Lincoln from Goodwin's book. I thought some of the conversations (the Bates and Lincoln, Hampton Roads) were very real and some rather contrived for dramatic flair. I would have liked the film to begin with the second inauguration instead of the scene with the soldiers and end with Lincoln dropping his gloves and walking toward his fate. The scene at Grover's and the Peterson house fell flat for me.

I would have liked to see Booth lurking at times (The second inauguration, final speech at Whitehouse)--never identified but lurking.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - BettyO - 11-20-2012 06:38 AM

I agree! I think that it would have been more effective to show an individual; i.e. Booth, lurking in the background - at the 2nd inauguration; etc. Just a quick glimpse -- it would have been effective. But as Spielberg said, "It's been done"; referring to Redford's The Conspirator. I was told that he really did NOT want to get into the assassination. I also think it would have been effective to show Lincoln's last visit to Seward after the carriage accident.... then quick cut to a close up of Seward, weeping, noticing the flag flying half mast out of his window - face bandaged from Powell's attack. Then a fade to the end -

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Gene C - 11-20-2012 07:51 AM

I like that ending Betty.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Linda Anderson - 11-20-2012 09:58 AM


I was disappointed that Spielberg did not show the assassination scene because it is part of the story. I don't think it matters that it's been done before; it's what happened. When they showed the theater at the end, I thought, wait a minute, they have swords, that's not Our American Cousin. Then they panned to the box and I thought, wait a minute, that's on the wrong side of the theater. It felt like we were being deliberately mislead.

We watched Lincoln the man throughout the movie. We saw horrible battlefield scenes and it would have been moving and appropriate to see Lincoln killed just as the soldiers were. Maybe seeing Lincoln and Mary from behind, hearing her say as she rests her hand on his arm, "What will Miss Harris think of my hanging on to you so?" and hearing his reply that "She won't think anything about it." Then a hand with the gun, the shot, Mary's scream.

My husband thought that the last scene should have been Lincoln walking away down the long hall.

Did anyone mention that Seward had been targeted that night as well? I may have missed it.

As I said on the other thread, the movie was wonderful. Did anyone else feel disappointed in the ending?

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - wsanto - 11-20-2012 01:43 PM

(11-20-2012 09:58 AM)Linda Anderson Wrote:  SPOILER ALERT
As I said on the other thread, the movie was wonderful. Did anyone else feel disappointed in the ending?

I felt most of the post-climatic scenes were too abbreviated and disjointed and the movie was clunking along at the end until we see DDL asLioncoln delivering the second inaugural.

I say move the second inaugural to the beginning of the movie and end with the walk down the hallway...

I am hoping the DVD will have some never-seen before footage of these important scenes

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - JMadonna - 11-21-2012 08:37 AM

Great Movie! Nothing to complain about. Great acting by everyone! I didn't even miss Sam Elliot not being part of the cast.

I was surprised that in one of the fight scenes between Mary and Abe that she accused him of hating Robert because her pregnancy led to their marriage.

I liked the ending. Since we all knew what happened when Lincoln left for the theater, it was better to end it with his hopeful second inaugural address. Although I confess I was straining to see if Booth was on the balcony behind him. I think he was under someone's chin. ...

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - RJNorton - 11-21-2012 08:50 AM

(11-21-2012 08:37 AM)JMadonna Wrote:  Although I confess I was straining to see if Booth was on the balcony behind him. I think he was under someone's chin. ...

Here's the scene, Jerry.

[Image: spielberglincoln.jpg]

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - BettyO - 11-21-2012 09:48 AM

I was so glad to see "NO Conspirators" -- "Hey! Lew and gang - down in front!!!

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Mike B. - 11-21-2012 06:49 PM

(11-21-2012 09:48 AM)BettyO Wrote:  I was so glad to see "NO Conspirators" -- "Hey! Lew and gang - down in front!!!


The RTL pregnancy led to the Lincolns marriage was first put out by Wayne Temple in his wonderful "From Skeptic to Prophet" book.

There is a case to be made there.

Of course it is impossible to prove.

But the Lincoln marraige was awfully sudden and unexpected and RTL was born less than 9 months later.

Both were in Springfield if you look at "Lincoln Day by Day" when conception would have been most likely to have occurred.

In any case, the theory is mostly circumstantial.

Where I would part with Temple and Michael Burligame who run with this theory is they accuse Mary of "seducing" Lincoln to trap him into marriage.

I think Lincoln himself would have no sympathy with this point of view. As he himself supposedly wrote in a poem he called "Seduction:"

"Whatever Spiteful fools may Say —
Each jealous, ranting yelper —
No woman ever played the whore
Unless She had a man to help her."

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - LincolnMan - 11-22-2012 12:32 PM

[Image: photoad83cb00476218170b.jpg]

Uploaded with

I found my old 78' set of Abe Lincoln In Illinois. My, I don't remember Massey looking so stern as Lincoln.

I'm looking forward to seeing the new Lincoln movie tomorrow at 1000am. The ticket was only $4.50!

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Ham920 - 11-22-2012 12:56 PM

I'm new to this group, but I'm not new to Lincoln or the Civil War. I became interested in the Civil War when I was in 4th grade and my teacher said everyone had to have a hobby. I had an American Heritage Golden Book on the Civil War and then read Catton’s “Stillness At Appomattox” and as they say, the rest was history. That was about 50 years ago. My fascination with the Civil War is not its blood and guts, but rather the personalities of the period; Lincoln, Davis, Lee, Grant, Sheridan, Longstreet, Sherman, Stuart, Custer, Forrest, McClellan, Hood, Johnston; I could go on and on.
My wife and I saw Spielberg’s Lincoln when it came out and this is what I thought of it:

Within the last decade or so movies concerning the Civil War have included Ted Turner’s “Gods and Generals”, “Gettysburg” and Robert Redford’s “The Conspirator.” As a Civil War enthusiast I’m always in favor of these types of movies because I often hear people say, “I wish I would have paid more attention in history class.” These movies relate, educate and explain our nation’s history, but unfortunately movie critics don’t always render positive reviews and people subsequently don’t always fill the seats to see these movies.

That wasn’t the case when we went to see Lincoln. It was the first time I can remember when an usher came in and told everyone to remove their jackets from any vacant seats because the movie was sold out. Maybe Obama’s references to Lincoln have generated a renewed interest in “Father Abraham;” maybe he has always been in hearts of Americans; maybe it’s the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War (1861-1865); or maybe it was just because it was produced by Spielberg, that generated the interest in the movie.

Daniel Day-Lewis, who portrays Lincoln, is as good as any Lincoln as I’ve seen. According to a Meet the Press interview with Doris Kearns Goodwin, who wrote “Team of Rivals” on which the movie is partly based, Day-Lewis told Spielberg he needed a year to study Lincoln and he actually went to Springfield with Goodwin to study Lincoln. The text of Goodwin’s interview can be found here:


When I first heard about the movie I was concerned that Lincoln would be portrayed in a typical one-dimensional saintly format as “The Great Emancipator,” but Day-Lewis puts flesh and personality into his portrayal of Lincoln. He brings out his deep sadness and depression that afflicted Lincoln as well as the homespun stories and humor he used to make a point. Historians say that Lincoln had a high pitched voice and he walked methodically putting one foot in front of the other. Day-Lewis captured both these traits.

The movie is not about the Civil War itself; it’s about what drove us into Civil War and Lincoln’s desire to address the problem that the Founding Father’s sidestepped – slavery. He had an understanding and passion about America – he was America’s poster child for upward mobility that is a result of the freedom we enjoy to not follow in our father’s footsteps. Similar to today’s Clintons Abe Lincoln came from a poor family, whereas Mary Todd’s father was a banker in Lexington, Kentucky and was raised in comfort and luxury. Bill Clinton is from a poor family and Hillary was raised in the comfort of Park Ridge, Illinois. Just like Hillary and Bill, what drew Abe and Mary together was their mutual love of politics.

Lincoln was a very shrewd politician and, as the movie illustrates, was willing to wheel and deal to get what he wanted. After all, Lincoln was famous for suspending the writ of habeas corpus. Although the Supreme Court told him he didn’t have the authority to suspend habeas corpus, even in times of war, Lincoln defied the court and ignored their ruling and continued to jail people without the writ of habeas corpus.

I thought Sally Field did an admirable job as Mary Todd Lincoln, but her part in the movie is relatively minor. As all of us on this symposium probably know, Mary Todd was a handful. The Lincolns’ lost a child in Springfield and another child in D.C. during Lincoln’s presidency. She was sitting next to Lincoln when he was assassinated and her third son “Tad” (or Thomas), died in 1871 at about 18 years old, six years after Lincoln was killed. Only their first son, Robert (“Bob”), portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, lived into manhood and became President James Garfield’s Secretary of War in 1881. During the War, Mary Todd held séances in the White House to try to connect with her deceased children. She was known for her excessive spending on what Lincoln called “flub dubs” (carpets, furniture, drapes, glassware) as well as her mood swings, fierce temper, and public outbursts. In 1875, her surviving son, Robert, committed her to a private asylum in Batavia, Illinois. Some historians and psychologists speculate that Mary suffered from what we call today a “bipolar disorder.”

In Mary Todd’s defense, the White House had deteriorated during the prior President James Buchanan's term; he was a bachelor. Mary went from room to room, finding the furniture broken down, the wallpaper peeling, the carpeting worn, the draperies torn and the basement filthy and rat-infested. She was determined to make the executive mansion a national showplace and to convince Washington Society that a “westerner” could serve as the First Lady. The movie touches on the relationship between Abe and Mary as when he gives into her wishes regarding Robert (“Bob”) Lincoln. Bob wants to join the army, but Mary won’t have it. In the end Lincoln arranges for Bob so serve as an aide on General Grant’s Staff and we see him at Appomattox when Lee surrenders. In fairness to Spielberg and Sally Field, the movie would have had to have been 3 hours longer to more fully illustrate the Lincoln marriage.

The movie only covers the period after Lincoln wins the 1864 presidential election and begins his second term in office, but the movie is very timely because one can draw a parallel to Obama’s current situation. The Emancipation Proclamation was a war measure that only freed the slaves in the areas held by the Confederacy. Once the War ended the proclamation would no longer be effective. Therefore, Lincoln wanted to amend the Constitution before the end of the War, but he faced Congressional opposition because there were still many, even in the North, who thought the War was fought to reunite the Union – not free the slaves. Similarly, Obama has recently won reelection and is facing a hostile Republican controlled House of Representatives.

I noted only a couple of minor historical liberties taken in the movie. First, in one scene Lincoln rides over a battlefield strewn with dead soldiers. Lincoln was actually on an active battlefield when the Rebels attacked the outskirts of D.C. in July 1864. Also, after the fall of Richmond in April 1865, he and his son Tad toured the city and he sat in the Confederate President Jeff Davis’s chair. I am unaware of any other time when Lincoln may have toured a battlefield that was still covered with dead bodies. Second, Lincoln is shown on his deathbed after he is shot at Ford’s Theatre. Day-Lewis lies in the bed with his legs bent. Actually, history relates that Lincoln was laid out on the bed diagonally to accommodate his 6’4” height; the bed was too short for his tall frame. His legs were straight, not bent. Again, a very minor point.

It’s easy to get lost in the political discourse, but Day-Lewis’s portrayal of Lincoln is outstanding. The spirit of the man, his compassion, his sadness, the weight of a War that cost more American lives than all of this nation’s Wars combined, his humor, his determination to end slavery, his handling of political rivals and his relationship with Mary Todd and his son Robert are all, in my opinion, accurately depicted.

In summary, see Spielberg's Lincoln; you'll be glad you did.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - LincolnMan - 11-22-2012 01:17 PM

Ham920: Awesome post. Welcome!