"Lincoln," contrary to the insinuation the title makes, is not necessarily a biographical film so much as it is a historical analysis of two of the most important events in the history of the United States — the passage of the 13th Amendment and the end of the Civil War. The movie does not focus on the life of Abraham Lincoln, but rather on his tremendous leadership in the final four months of his presidency.
Spielberg has a tendency to embellish and put forth films that are unbearably sentimental. He exercised great restraint and the final product is all the better as a result. While a certain degree of Hollywood embellishment is inevitably present, the movie is surprisingly accurate and tells the story of a much different Lincoln from the immaculate hero that we came to admire in our youth.
Daniel Day-Lewis, from the opening scene to the film's poignant conclusion, does a brilliant job channeling the nation's 16th president. His depiction of Lincoln is accurate, with very little in the way of frills. Lincoln speaks with a weak, wispy voice, using language that sometimes reveals his humble, backwoods upbringing (although his grammar, for a home-schooled, 19th-century figure, puts most of us to shame).
As it ends up, Lincoln himself was not above dirty political tactics. He conceals information from Congress and hires lobbyists to win over the support of some racist Democrats. Lincoln does not take this action without a tremendous deal of contemplation, however.
I could not help but leave the theater with a great appreciation for Lincoln's amazing depth of thought and wisdom. At one point in the film, he roams the hallways of the White House at 3 a.m. pondering whether or not he should pardon some young deserters. Indeed, he spends much of his time contemplating; his political enemies interpret this as a lack of decisiveness and intelligence on the president's part. As it ends up, he is much wiser than his enemies could even imagine.
After a while,...