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December 26, 2012

So I finally went to see Lincoln today, and I agree with everyone who said that it’s a good movie. It was everything a movie should be: entertaining, engaging, thought-provoking, and at times, even somewhat moving. I also agree with the critics who say that Daniel Day-Lewis makes a fantastic Lincoln.

That said, I also agree with a lot of the criticisms directed at the film, such as the fact that black characters play a noticeably minor and passive role in a film centred on the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, as well as the way it glosses over many of the more controversial (and arguably equally as dramatic) aspects of Lincoln’s presidency, like his suspension of habeas corpus and his shifting stance (or at least rhetoric) on the issues of abolition and racial equality.

They’re alluded to, of course, but only briefly, and with the latter downplayed so much that Spielberg’s Lincoln appears as a man hell-bent on abolishing slavery, both in order to end the war and to end a moral evil, instead of the Lincoln who wrote in 1862, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.”

I was also a bit annoyed by the numerous references to men ‘enlisting’ and essentially zero references to those ‘drafted,’ or the wealthy who were able to avoid it by shelling out a $300 commutation fee (NOT TO MENTION THE LADY WHO TALKED THROUGH THE ENTIRE FUCKING FILM CAUSING ME TO CHANGE MY SEAT).

All in all, though, the film itself is well-made and well-acted. And despite some of the personal issues I have with certain elements within it, I think it’s a good, solid film that’s definitely worth seeing—the only caveat being to watch it with a grain of salt and do a bit of digging into the actual history on which it’s based.


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