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RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Mark MacKenzie - 11-22-2012 03:17 PM

BTW Romney also quoted Lincoln in his last debate saying, "America was the last best hope of earth."

I'm glad to hear the good reviews here.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - LincolnMan - 11-22-2012 03:37 PM

I missed Romney making that quote, but Lincoln sure was right- I believe!

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - LincolnMan - 11-23-2012 02:14 PM

I'm on the way home from seeing LINCOLN (my wife is driving). It was brilliant. I'm emotionally drained. Were going to discuss it over lunch-more to follow...

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - LincolnMan - 11-23-2012 06:39 PM

As I'm giving thought to the movie, I'm remembering an "oops" or two that I noticed right away:

1) mention of a coin with Lincoln's image on it (didn't exist at the time)
2) General Grant's appearance at Appomattox-too clean-and Grant should have been wearing a private's coat.

I loved the movie. People who are students of the history tend to notice the little goofs.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Thomas Thorne - 11-23-2012 09:11 PM

Excellent film was much better than I was led to believe. Too many historical political films have the characters merely become vehicles for the speeches and are not complete characters in their own right. I always thought Chaplin's closing speech at the end of "The Great Dictator" detracted from the film because it was the speech of Chaplin the filmmaker and not the barber he played in the film. The "Lincoln" characters particularly Daniel Day Lewis became their characters. DDL was so extraordinary that I found myself looking at his second inaugural address as much as I listened to it. Having succeeded in the high risk task of the second inaugural address, any other ending would have been inferior as the speech reinforced the idea that Lincoln has never left us.

The film could have been called "Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment." The ignorant might have supposed this title was about Lincoln and the masons.

I wonder-and I confess ignorance on the subject-whether House passage of the 13th amendment was quite the epic Hollywood struggle depicted in the movie. We know that Maryland voters abolished slavery in 1864. Does anyone know what the vote was? Lincoln won 55% of the Maryland vote in 1864. This was much higher than the Lincoln vote in other middle atlantic states and must reflect the effects of both loyalty oaths and the unwillingness of some Confederate sympathizers to participate in the Yankee political process. Our old friend Democratic Senator Reverdy Johnson supported abolition in 1864.

One ace in the hole Lincoln had was the knowledge that the new 39th Congress that would come into being in Dec 1865 unless convened earlier-perhaps as early as March 1865 would have 145 Republicans and only 46 Democrats in the House. Everyone knew that this Congress would pass the 13th Amendment. Is it possible that the real Lincoln made deals with certain Democrats who actually or would have voted against the 13th Amendment on 1/31/65 but only switched sides when told their votes were critical. Perhaps there were other Democrats who voted no who would changed their votes to yes if needed. Last minute changes in voting after the vote is made but before the vote is final are a common parliamentary tool.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - L Verge - 11-23-2012 09:34 PM

I'm not politically adept, but in 1864, Marylanders were voting on an entirely new state constitution - only one part of it pertained to abolishing slavery. 30,174 voted in favor of it and 29,799 against (50.31% to 49.69%).

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that some of the votes in the 1864 general election were padded a bit by Union forces who were allowed to vote in Maryland even though they were not citizens of the state. Gee, imagine fraudulent voting being allowed!

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Thomas Thorne - 11-23-2012 11:30 PM

As police chief Claude Rains said in "Casablanca" as he was being handed his winnings,"I'm shocked,I'm shocked there's gambling going on here."

Thank you Laurie for the results of the 1864 Maryland state constitutional referendum.

My source says it took place on 9/18/1864 which must be a misprint. While it was common for state elections in this period to fall on a different day than the presidential election-in 1864 this was 11/8-I would be stupefied to learn that an election took place on 9/18/64 because it was a Sunday, given the religious beliefs of the time. Would any Maryland bars and taverns-an essential element of 19th century election days be open on Sundays in 1864? Did Surratt House, being partly a post office prior to John Jr running afoul of the authorities and having a tavern attached, ever serve as a polling place?

Lincoln received 40,153-55.09& and McClellan got 40,153-44.91% in the 1864 Maryland presidential election. Lincoln received 55.03% of the popular vote among the 25 states which participated in the election. Maryland was his 13th strongest state percentage wise. Lincoln's tally in the other loyal prewar slave states was Missouri 69.72%, West Virginia-which seceded from Virginia-68.24,Delaware 48.19% and Kentucky 30.17%

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - L Verge - 11-24-2012 01:15 PM

In 1854, Surratt's Tavern became a U.S. post office and also the official polling place for the new Ninth Election District in Prince George's County. Interestingly, the site was designated as "Surratt's Hotel" - not "Tavern." The election district is still known today as the Ninth or Surratts District.

The state's constitutional convention convened on April 27, 1864, and finished its work on September 6. The new document then went out for ratification on October 13, 1864. The approved constitution went into effect on November 1, 1864.

It should be noted that any white males who had left the state to fight for the Confederacy were not allowed to vote. Neither was anyone thought to have been giving aid and support to the Confederacy during the war.

Maryland ratified the 13th Amendment the next year on February 3, 1865. However, our state never did ratify the 14th and 15th Amendments.

Also, in the 1864 Presidential race, only the Eastern Shore of Maryland went for McClelland.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Craig Hipkins - 11-25-2012 10:48 PM

I finally got to see the movie today with my wife and son. It was a brilliant performance by both Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field. I also thought that David Strathairn did a great job as Seward. My only complaint would be that they should have ended the movie at the scene where he is walking down the hallway. That was a very moving scene. There was no need to go visit with Tad at Grover's theatre, or see Lincoln on the bed at the Petersen House.
Hey Bill, I too noticed the immaculate appearance of Grant at Appomattox.
Like the rest of you I was looking for Lewis Powells white hat, and John Wilkes Booth on the balcony!


RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - LincolnMan - 11-26-2012 08:39 AM

Craig: I hadn't thought of it but agree-ending the movie where Lincoln was walking down the hallway would've been a very dramatic ending-knowing that he was going to be murdered. The scene would be suggestive that he was walking into eternity...

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - GARY POPOLO - 11-26-2012 02:42 PM

(11-18-2012 01:13 PM)Mike B. Wrote:  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?
I saw the film last night with my wife and I thought it was very well done. The film shows us a Lincoln which is not much different from other politicians and what they will do behind closed doors to get what they want done for themselves and their party. A few friends that went with my wife and I were looking for another assassination film. Boy were they surprised. I told them the whole deal about (TEAM OF RIVALS) guess they didn't get it as they were disappointed in the film!! GO FIGURE. I loved the film and the acting. I also think Showing Booth at the end talking about n....... citizenship and that being the last speech Lincoln would give would have been good for the film and showing Lincolns strong view on slavery.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - LincolnMan - 11-27-2012 09:18 AM

On Point #2 regarding the movie showing the white and black soldiers meeting with Lincoln. I too felt it was contrived and probably not realistic. I've been thinking about Spielberg's intention for this scene. I would love to hear what everyone else thinks. The scene happens at the beginning of the film but not the very beginning. First there is that horrific battle scene. Perhaps, Spielberg wants the viewer to know that Lincoln-who is literally seated between the two groups-was the reason that such a meeting could take place-whites and blacks both wearing the same uniform-fighting on the same side.and to go further-the president was such that he would meet with the "common" soldier no matter who it was. He valued everyone's opinions. Also, there is the matter of the soldiers reciting the Gettysburg Address-perhaps to convey to the viewer that the notions expressed in it were a unifying point for the soldiers-black or white-whether it was to declare again that "all men were created €qual" or to understand that the war was worth fighting for because it was a test to see if democracy would survive. Your thoughts?

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - LincolnMan - 11-27-2012 10:25 AM

I wrote a few comments on the movie this morning while having my coffee. Some of the informational stuff included in it comes from Wiki. I'll probably post it on my Lincoln blog today, also. Well, here is my two cents:

For five years the actor cast for the role of Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s movie of the same name, ate, slept, and breathed everything Abraham Lincoln-that journey for the actor began in 2005. In 2010, that actor- Liam Neeson, bowed out. Daniel Day-Lewis was cast for the role in his place. This, of course, is not unheard of when it comes to movie roles- and the stars who eventually played the parts (and the stars who might have played the parts). We all know the story of actor Buddy Ebsen who was originally cast as the scarecrow in MGM’s Wizard of Oz. Ebsen wound up switching his role of the scarecrow with Roy Bolger, who was cast as the Tin Man. During the filming of the movie, Ebsen had to leave the project for health reasons. Actor Jack Haley replaced Ebsen as the Tin Man. Haley finished the role making, some would argue, his career- defining work. Mr. Neeson is a fine actor with much to acclaim his work. His role as Oskar Schindler in Schindler’s List alone- places him among the greats. Considering the amazing performance that Day-Lewis gives as President Lincoln, there doesn’t seem to be much room for wondering how Neeson would have done with the role. It just isn’t necessary to speculate.
Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln is the “Lincoln” that the world needs to see. The actor portrays Lincoln not as an unapproachable unemotional icon, a person without faults, or a saint. Instead, we get a Lincoln that is patient (but his patience has limits), ethical (but is willing to break rules when for the greater good), and expressive (displaying many emotions to various circumstances). In another words, he is human. We see Lincoln-not the immortal statue-like figure of monuments and secular temples-but a real living, walking, breathing man. Its fun to watch Day-Lewis interpret Lincoln-how Lincoln might have stood against a fireplace or read a newspaper. We see Lewis as Lincoln reacting to Mary Todd-sometimes showing anger-sometimes consoling her. It seems so real. We see Lewis as Lincoln the father. His relationship with young Tad is warm. Tad is shown getting a piggy-back ride on the back of Lincoln. We see Lincoln’s complicated relationship with his oldest son Robert. There is implied an emotional distance between the two, but Lincoln clearly loves his son, and wants the best for him.
Most of all, we see Lewis portray Lincoln as master politician. His Lincoln listens to all opinions. Indeed, he goes into dank cellars and kitchens to gather information from others. He listens and thinks things over. All the while, he has a goal deep inside him-to end slavery. Here’s especially where the “master politician” comes into play-he will get the 13th Amendment (ending slavery) passed. He sends out his “operatives” to get the votes that will be needed. He will make personal visits to secure the “yes” votes. He engages in certain “risky behaviors” to get the job done-but the job does get done. It gets done despite opposition from all sides, even within his own party- by some. Lincoln is determined-and nothing or no one will stop him. He will tell his jokes and annoy his listeners. He will seem to be making wrong choices as seen through the eyes of his closest advisors. The war, itself, seems to cry out to him: “Make peace, Mr. Lincoln!” But Lincoln knows he cannot make peace if it is conditioned on the continuation of slavery. He remains resolute-and the fate of the nation rests on him.
Day-Lewis as Lincoln meeting with Grant near the end of the war-Grant makes a comment to Lincoln about how he has aged in the year that has transpired. And Lincoln had aged. He had lost more than 25 pounds since he had become president. Lewis as Lincoln portrays a man wearing out and graying-rapidly. He appears so thin. He stoops sometimes when he walks. He looks physically tired.

Yet, with grace, charm, and wit- Lewis’s Lincoln carries out his task as president. He has had his dream-the one that most think portended his death. Still, he talks of plans for life after his second term of office as president. Maybe he will go back to Springfield-he talks of visiting the Holy Land. But we know the end of the story. Lincoln is murdered. Spielberg, wisely, I think, does not devote time to the actual assassination. We are with Tad in Grover’s Theater when the news that the president is shot is abruptly announced to the theater-goers. Our hearts break with Tad’s. We emotionally connect with the horror of it. We see Lincoln on his death-bed. There is blood on his pillow. Lincoln is too big for the bed they laid him on. He looks shriveled. What a moment… As the movie ends, Spielberg shows Lincoln giving his Second Inaugural Speech-it’s a fitting and classy ending. I think he didn’t want the viewer’s last image of the film to be of a lifeless Lincoln. I was reminded that the same thinking came into play in regards to Elvis Presley’s first movie Love Me Tender. In the film, Elvis played a role whose character dies in the end. Rather than leaving the fans with an image of a dead Elvis-even Elvis playing the role of someone else in movie, the end-credits feature Elvis well and singing-kind of ghostlike-but alive. So Lincoln the movie leaves one with the knowledge that Lincoln the president accomplished his goals-to end the war and to end slavery-and the unspoken part is that we alive today are the benefactors of his accomplishments. Lincoln is not dead because his work continues live on.
Needless, to say, the sets in the movie are phenomenal. The clothing and costumes are meticulous. The opening of the movie, which features a very gruesome and realistic battle- scene, leaves one with a true sense of the chaos of hand-to-hand fighting. That scene-of death- is really always behind the events of what the rest of the movie is about. With all the politicking that is occurring by men in well-dressed clothing doing their work in stately buildings-other men by the thousands are dying-and slavery is continuing. African-Americans are shown in the movie in various roles-as Union soldiers-as slaves, as servants. They are not left out of the story by any means. How ironic the scene where the 13th Amendment is being debated and voted on by the white politicians (many of them against its passage)-while African-Americans look on their deliberations! How relieved we in the audience felt when it passed- as the pro-13th Amendment- backers sang with joy the Battle Cry of Freedom. Imagine what they felt.
As with every film, there were some minor “goofs.” Mention was made in the movie of a coin with Lincoln’s image on it-there was no such coin at the time. The first coin featuring Lincoln was the cent minted in 1909. Another small note, General Grant appeared “too clean” at Appomattox-his boots and uniform at the time were soiled from field wear. He also should have been wearing a private’s frock coat-which he wasn’t. There were other instances of such things-a few times we hear characters refer to the “White House.” That term wasn’t in existence as that point. The “White House” was then called the “Executive Mansion.” In another scene, a Union soldier tells Lincoln he heard him give the Gettysburg Address two years before. However, the scene is set in either December 1864 or January 1865. Correctly speaking, the soldier should have stated he heard the Address a year ago. Maybe he was nervous?

Steven Spielberg is said to have spent 12 years doing the research for the movie. It shows. The film is a masterpiece. Despite a few “goofs”-and I think them to be minor-everything about it displays a passion for the subject matter and the subject Lincoln. It is interesting to note, that the actual filming was done in Virginia-in Petersburg, Fredericksburg, and Richmond. President Lincoln had personally visited some of those very locations. But even more for realism is this note- the sound of Lincoln’s watch in the movie-is the ticking of Abraham Lincoln’s real watch-the watch he had on the day he was assassinated.
A final comment concerns the movie showing the white and African-American Union soldiers meeting with Lincoln. I felt it was contrived and probably not realistic. I've been thinking about Spielberg's intention for this scene. The scene happens at the beginning of the film but not the very beginning. First there is that horrific battle scene. Maybe Spielberg is saying that the carnage just displayed in that scene made it possible for the next scene to occur-without the war there would have not have been such a sight. Additionally, Spielberg wants the viewer to know that Lincoln-who is literally seated between the two groups-was the reason that such a meeting could take place-whites and African-Americans both wearing the same uniform-fighting on the same side-and to go further-the president was such that he would meet with the "common" soldier no matter who it was. As I’ve mentioned, he valued everyone's opinions. Also, there is the matter of the soldiers reciting the Gettysburg Address-perhaps to convey to the viewer that the notions expressed in it were a unifying point for the soldiers-no matter who they were-whether it was to declare again that "all men were created equal" or to understand that the war was worth fighting for because it was a test to see if democracy would survive-and that there was a “new birth of freedom” in the land.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Mark MacKenzie - 11-27-2012 12:58 PM

Great review, Bill. I saw it last night and will see it again soon. I can't think of any movie in the recent theater I would pay to see twice or more.

Its a great movie.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - wsanto - 11-27-2012 01:10 PM

Great post! You have encapsulated my feeling towards the movie as well with your insight. I too felt the scene with the soldiers was a bit contrived and , ultimately, unneccessary.

I beg your pardon while I rewite Mr. Kushners script and rework Mr. Spielberg' masterful vision a bit---but I would have opened the film with the second inaugural speech and ended it with him walking toward the door of the White House. Or an alternative would be finish the film with the deathbed scene and then let DDL re-enact the Gettysburgh Address. That would have been sweet as well.