Oscar season is on! And since it’s been a while since I wrote a movie review, I thought it would be time. It’s not as if I haven’t seen any movies in the mean time, but nothing was really worth noting. Until now. I went to see Lincoln last week and I can tell you: one of the best historical dramas I have ever seen.
The plot is fairly easy to explain: it tells the tale of Abraham Lincoln’s attempt to abolish slavery and end the American Civil War in 19th century America. The story begins a few months before the penultimate events take place and ends with his assassination shortly after the end of the war. The focus lies on Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States and how he navigates the politics (and the corruption) that comes with the day and age he lives in. On the other hand, the movie also shows parts of Abraham Lincoln, the man: how he treats his wife, his sons and his colleagues.
And it’s the depiction of this: the character of Abraham Lincoln in all its multi-faceted ways that makes this a movie to watch. At first Lincoln is depicted as a do-gooder, who tells stories for what seems others entertainment and loves spending time with his youngest son. As the story progresses and push comes to shove, his character alters ever so slightly that the reader doesn’t know it has happened until the change becomes adamant. From a storyteller and a bit of a soft dimwit he changes into a man who will do whatever it takes to fight what he believes is right. Even if that means using his Presidential power to veto whatever is decided by his members of staff.
But wait, there’s more to like about this movie! Because if there is one thing this movie got right it’s the atmosphere of the times. It comes up quite subtly in the movie, but it’s there right from the start. From explaining through acts (not words) the stance the general consensus regarding slavery of the day to the difference in the political landscape (when Republicans were liberal and Democrats were conservative): everything is explained through the lines. It’s not as if you have to have thorough knowledge of US history to be able to watch this movie and still understand it.
What helps to achieve this understanding are the outstanding decor, settings and make up artistry. The sets are magnificently well done and together with the way the movie is shot (especially the use of lighting in this movie is magnificent), makes the entire movie look like it’s 1863 all over again. Add to that the great make up that makes Daniel Day Lewis really look like Lincoln (and even shows his character progression!) and you have a movie that sets a mood. A mood which isn’t always pleasant, but interesting nonetheless.
If you are looking for a fast action-packed movie about the US Civil War then this movie isn’t for you. However, if you like character studies that are well-made, well-designed and breathe the atmosphere of the times, then go see this!
IMDB: 7.8. What I thought: 8.5