Lincoln unmissable despite criticism

Posted on 12 February 2013
By Carlton Whitfield
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There are quite a few Cinema London film reviews around saying that Steven Spielberg’s historical drama, Lincoln, is somehow something of a long slog to watch.

The criticism is that it isn’t fast-paced enough. It’s too detailed for those not well-versed in US Civil War and political history – not enough happens. But such criticism is well wide of the mark. The fact is that for the thinking movie-goer, Lincoln is simply unmissable.

If we want action-packed, easy-to-understand film pap then there’s no shortage of it on offer. But those of us who yearn for a little more historical accuracy in our movies whilst simultaneously being thoroughly entertained by one of the greatest actors of his generation in the shape of the superb student of the “method”, Daniel Day Lewis, will surely not be disappointed by this historical epic.

Few films put you in the moment in the way that Lincoln achieves. Take, for example, the short scene in which Lincoln is conversing with a Union soldier about an incident involving a 16-year-old boy sentenced to hang for making his horse lame to avoid going into battle.

Lincoln demands of the disciplining soldier if the general would complain if he were to pardon the young man in question.

The soldier observes that the general already thinks that Lincoln pardons too many men to which the President replies: “War is nearly done; what use another corpse?” He remarks that if he was to hang every 16-year-old for cruelty to a horse or for being afraid, there’d be no 16-year-old boys left.

It is in such moments that Daniel Day-Lewis’ Lincoln brings to life the real Lincoln; a man who was legendary for his off-the-cuff witticisms and funny stories – which managed to drive home his points in a way that didn’t cause offence and carried the tide of popular opinion with him at a crucial point in world history. And this movie puts you right in that moment in time. One not to be missed.