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post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Much less bad than I thought it would be, and almost good.

It completely ignores the whole revisionist school that Lincoln didn't care about slavery/the war was only economic and all that BS. These arguments are not refuted, they are just ignored. It's like 100 years of bullshit "scholarship" never happened. Lincoln is consistently presented as an enemy of slavery from his earliest youth.

Lincoln's caginess about his true opinions on race are well represented, e.g., in the scene on the WH steps with Mrs. Lincoln's maid. That little scene encapsulated his whole way of parrying those who reductio-ed his thought to "forced miscegenation" in order to discredit him in the eyes of the people.

The way prudence is depicted is consistently admirable. The modern epigone considers all acts of prudence, especially circumspection about race, to be fundamentally evil. Yet the film shows that Stephens' radicalism leads to disaster and his culminating act of restraint and misdirection about his true opinion on the House floor is shown as an act of great statesmanship. It's extremely rare to see maturity like this praised by a Hollywood movie.

The scene in which Lincoln revolves through the various competing tugs re: the Emancipation Proclamation was brilliant. It showed in a very precise way how his mind was pulled in all different directions by natural right, public opinion, legality,expediency, power politics, justice and so on and how they often conflicted and he had to find the path forward and reconcile them all to the extent possible. The "compass pointing north" scene with Stephens also conveyed this well.

I identify three problems:

1) The Declaration of Independence is only alluded to, not flatly stated as the core of Lincoln's thought and statesmanship, which is a grievous error. The Euclid scene was clever and true as far as it goes but not the whole truth, which should have been presented.

2) The central conflict in the film is the attempt to get the 13th amendment passed in January 1865, before the swearing in of the overwhelmingly Republican new Congress, which could have passed it easily. This urgency is not suffiently explained in the film, which gives the whole narrative a kind of hollowness.

3) In medea res. The film absolutely should not have carried through the assassination. It had to show Hampton Roads, for obvious reasons, but should have ended after the 2nd Inaugural and (in my opinion) before Appomattox. Homer did not show the fall of Troy.

All in all, I am astounded that a Stalinist like Kushner could have written this.

Purely as a film it is not as good as Schindler's List but it is much better than the ridiculous Amistad and Day Lewis is brilliant. Thoroughly believable as Lincoln.
post #2 of 6
LOL at you calling Kushner a Stalinist. Manton, you are truly of a different era.

BUT, thanks for the evaluation of the movie - it seems to have an astonishing amount of scholarship in it compared to just about any other movie out there.
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Kushner really is a repulsive person, Stalinist certainly fits his method and probably about 85% of his politics.
post #4 of 6
I thoroughly enjoyed the film, but noticed a few errors that you stated in your evaluation. Anyway, thanks for the good read.
post #5 of 6
I'm going to have to see this now. Day-Lewis has been a thoroughly rewarding actor, when I've caught his movies.
post #6 of 6
Did DD Lewis over act it? He was a bit over the top in There Will Be Blood.

What about the gay stuff?
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