Wednesday, 6 March 2013


The American Civil War (1861 – 1865) has been the subject of many feature films over the years from Birth of a Nation (1915) to Cold Mountain (2003) via epic movies like Gone with the Wind (1939), Gettysburg (1993), Ride with the Devil (1999) and many more. This week’s Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre Film Club, again hosted by Mr Stephan Pickering standing in for his wife Pat who unfortunately was suffering from a bout of the flu, was screening Lincoln (2012) an absorbing, performance driven film that invites you to witness the last four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life right up to his assassination on the 14th April 1865 by the American stage actor and Confederate sympathiser John Wilkes Booth at the Ford Theatre Washington DC while watching a play accompanied by his wife Mary Todd Lincoln. We see very little of the actual war, the movie focuses on the presidents efforts to have the Thirteenth Amendment to the United Constitution passed by the United States House of Representatives, and the underhanded skulduggery that went on from the President down in a attempts to get this unpopular amendment passed. The text of the 13th amendment read:

Section 1: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2: Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The President and his First Lady Spielberg style.
The movie is directed by Steven Spielberg, his best film since Munich in 2005 and includes a cast of over 100 speaking parts. These actors are really on top of their craft, including Daniel Day Lewis, who won a clutch of Best Actor Awards for his uniquely masterful portrayal of Lincoln, Sally Field outstanding as the First Lady, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robert Todd Lincoln, David Strathairn, as Secretary of State Seward, Tommy Lee Jones superb as Thaddeus Stevens and John Hawkes as Colonel Robert Latham.  The key source of the screenplay is the biography called Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

The real thing!

My only criticism is in its typical American ending, which yet again tends to add a coating of sickly syrup where its not needed. It should have finished with the President leaving the White House; we all know what happens next so there was no need to extend it to include flickering candles! That apart the movie is a fascinating political drama that I could not recommend more and I’m sure that supplementary viewing’s would only increase the enjoyment.

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