The mere mention that name brings thoughts of the Civil War, honesty, and freedom of slaves. Oft forgotten though, is his work of the 13th Amendment, which truly granted slaves freedom. Not the Emancipation Proclamation.
This film tells the story of how Lincoln worked to pass this amendment to our constitution. It shows the reasoning behind it, the politics involved, and the opposition to it. Some democrats in the Union refused to acknowledge black people as equal in the Nation. They fight long and hard to fail the amendment, as they argue the south will never surrender with slavery abolished. The amendment will prolong the war, and worse yet, completely divide the nation past the point of repair.
We see a glimpse into how Abe lived his life during this short moment in history. We see his family. We see his cabinet. And most importantly, we see his personality brilliantly captured in a manner which not only compliments his virtues, but recognizes his flaws. He is a man, serving as president, in a divided country. He is Lincoln.
Things I liked
The star of this movie is of course Lincoln, and much of the movie is spent on how he lived in every aspect of life….
– Even thought Lincoln was president of the United states of America, family always came first. In cabinet meetings his son would drop in and Lincoln think nothing of it. His wife, Mary, still grieving over the loss of Willie, puts on the mask of a happy first lady, and supports Lincoln in his decisions. She will challenge him on his thoughts, but when his mind is made, she supports him completely. When the votes were being cast, Lincoln stayed at home with his son and spent the day with him. Over and over we see him placing family priorities above everything else in this movie.
– Lincoln was not as perfect a man as many of the history books make him out to be. He was wily and shrewd and could play politics with the best of them. That was not his usual Modus Operandi however. Often he would reason and talk to someone to achieve the desired goal or viewpoint. But when necessary, he acted in ways which were quite political and manipulative. At times we see him offer jobs of patronage for yes votes. One time he flat out lies the the representative assemble, an action deemed “Impeachable” by one of his advisors. I appreciated they made Lincoln a man who lived life. Not a man larger than life.
– Finally about the portrayal of Lincoln, was his personality and how he lead others. Manipulation was a rarity by him, though he would participate in it. We do see many commendable leadership traits by Lincoln. One such trait is his use of stories to communicate points. His use of appropriate humor to defused tense situations. His grace and teaching spirit. He gave one boy a pardon for laming his horse to avoid battle because “I don’t want to hang a boy for being frightened. What good would it be for him.” His meekness as president. His ability to accomplish goals by doing things himself. All of these traits are ones which are to be commended, and while he was not perfect, should be recognized for his strengths.
In addition to Lincoln and how he related to many aspects of the 13th amendment and family, I enjoyed the given perspective of the Civil War. Often slavery is wrongly portrayed as the main factor and basis for the Civil war, which is simply not True. The Vice President of the Confederate State of America said in the movie “You can’t take away our slaves and expect a complete surrender. You take away that and you destroy our economy. Our way of life. Our power. We won’t even know who we are anymore.”
We are shown the civil was was not mainly about slavery, but about political power and economic security. I appreciated an accurate focus of the war, not twisted and warped into something it wasn’t.
The last thing I would like to note is the quality of the movie. The videography, the lighting, the costumes, the acting, the score…. All were masterfully done. I would have no issue believing Linclon was just like the man on the screen. His mannerisms, his voice, and action were all perfectly mimicked according to historical records. It was a treat to watch and see all of these artistic fields blended together to create the picture on screen.
Things I didn’t like
The main issue I take with this movie is the profanity. There is a lot of it. Dozens misuses of God’s name are said. D—, B—–, F—, and more are used by old men, soldiers, and some riled up congressmen. Even Lincoln dishes out an S— word for some crude humor.
The movie opens with a battle scene where “the Colored Union Soldiers” are fighting Confederates. It is raining, so water has collected in many places. We see men getting beat to death with rifles, stabbed in the stomach with bayonets, stomped to death and drowned… all in the course of around two minutes. While this is not at all enjoyable to watch. It is good to be reminded no battle is glorious or should be praised, especially in the instance of this war.
We are shown a cart dripping large amounts of blood being wheeled, then multiple amputated arms and legs dumped into a pit behind the hospital.
Near the end of the movie. Lincoln goes to the last battle ground in Virginia, and we are shown the aftermath of war. Dead corpses are shown everywhere in various forms of death. Some were ripped open, guts spilling out onto the muddy ground. Some had bayonets in the back. While others where in piles behind cover, piled on top of each other. With John William’s scoring, and Mr. Lincoln’s reaction, it was enough to make you sick and tear up at the same time.
“You can know True North. When I was a surveyor, I would align my compass to true North, The compass points you true north but does not warn you of obstacles and swamps along the way. So while you can plow through people, ideals, and goals focused on True North, without looking at your surroundings, you can wind up stuck in the swamp….”
Lincoln says to Thaddeus Stevens about Mr. Stevens unwavering principle on the black right to freedom, vote, and more. Lincoln illustrates how while we can know we are right about something, being obnoxious about it and plowing through people with the idea is not going to get you anywhere. It is also going to get you stuck with your idea and people will not want to listen to you. How does Mr. Stevens respond? Well, you’ll have to watch it to find out. ;)
This quote stuck in my mind, because I was instantly reminded of some Christians. You know of whom I speak. ;) How important it is to remember while we are right in following Christ and God’s word it true, that we not become arrogant in such knowledge. That we remain as gentle as a dove, yet wise as a serpent when we witness with our actions, words, and life. The movie portrayed that concept excellently, and gave me a heart check and application to implement.
“Can we choose to be born? Are we fitted to the times we’re born into? We begin with equality, that’s the origin isn’t it? That’s justice. See we’ve shown that a people can endure awful sacrifice and yet cohere.”
Another outstanding quote from Lincoln. He asks this to a young man, while sitting in the communication room, about to send a message to Grant. While an answer never is decided, the point is made… Are we in this place and time for a purpose? As Christians, we can answer a resounding “Yes”. This makes an excellent talking point for witnessing or starting conversations about life purpose, and I intend to use it as such.
All in all. This movie is like Lincoln himself. It stands tall and true on biblical principles, history, and showing what the Civil war truly was. However, problems (which Lincoln also had) need to be recognized and not excused. These are the language and quite gruesome scenes.
If we remember anything about Lincoln portrayed in this flick, it should be his indubitable spirit and wisdom in the time into which he was fitted. He saw and felt from his deepest conviction the 13th amendment was the the first step in solve to the nation’s problems about division and slavery. And he did what ever he felt within his power as president to do get that done.
When deciding to see this movie, I’ll close with Lincoln’s advice, as my wisdom in this is lacking. He said when making decisions…. “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day.”