By Lane Roberts
President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19, 1863, four months after the infamous Battle of Gettysburg.
In 2012, Steven Spielberg brought the 16th president’s tumultuous final months in office to the big screen.
Lincoln focuses on the president’s pursuit to end the war, unite the country and abolish slavery.
The film opens with scenes that deliver the movie’s agenda: Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) is approached by two pairs of Union soldiers, one black and the other white, while the scene flashes to a bloody battle in a field of mud where soldiers of both races fight to a brutal death.
Day-Lewis has earned major praise for his role as Lincoln, garnering the Best Actor Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. He is near perfect in this role, playing Honest Abe as folksy, wise and gentle—a personification of the man from our childhood history lessons.
Also featured in the film are other historically familiar faces: Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field), Lincoln’s vulnerable but steadfast wife; Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones), the fierce Pennsylvania representative; and celebrated Union alumnus, William Seward (David Strathairn), who served as Secretary of State under Lincoln.
This is not a traditional biopic; it does not recount each of Lincoln’s triumphs or his failures. Instead, Spielberg decided to focus on the final four months of Lincoln’s life, in which he leaves his lasting legacy.
Audiences see him age due to the weight of his public and private struggles, which threaten to stoop his lanky frame. We also see, however, a caring father and a courageous man dedicated to his cause.
Though the Emancipation Proclamation was issued far longer than four score and seven years ago, and though this generation may not fully appreciate the impact it had on this country, Lincoln serves as an important reminder of how far this country has come, and of the strength required to bring about change.