One of the most prominent presidents of all time has hit the big screen in the historical drama film Lincoln. The 16th president was portrayed by Daniel Day Lewis in the adaptation of the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln written by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Lincoln follows the historical president’s journey to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, which would abolish slavery, through the United States House of Representatives. While Lincoln is the main focus of the movie the film balances many other significant characters that were influential to the story like Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones), Mary Lincoln (Sally Field), Robert Latham (John Hawkes), and many others.
The film captures the events dramatically and memorably with impressive acting, strong dialogue, authentic designs, and colorful humor. Lewis is at his best depicting the president from his appearance to the iconic person we all remember him to be; a calm, confident, intelligent, compassionate leader who is determined to do what he knew had to be done.
Lewis is not the only actor in the movie that will be remembered after the film ends. Tommy Lee Jones puts on an unforgettable performance as the flamboyant and powerful leaders of the House of Representative Thaddeus Stevens. His dialogue is exceedingly clever and stays free from clichéd lines, which makes him all the more fascinating throughout the film.
While the film has been highly praised for its’ accurate depiction of the events it has also drawn criticism for it. Eric Foner, Academic historian and former recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, is one of the few historians who accused the film of historical inaccuracies. In an interview on CNN, Foner has criticized that the film exaggerates the president’s role in ending slavery.
“The emancipation of the slaves is a long complicated historical process; it’s not the work of one man no matter how great he was,” he says.
“It was not Lincoln who originated the Thirteenth Amendment, it was the abolitionist movement. It’s only in the middle of 1864 that Lincoln changes his mind and decides he’s in favor of this amendment.”
However, Foner also stated that Lewis’s performance is fairly accurate and “recommend people see and then read a book about Lincoln.”
The film has grossed over $80 million in limited theatres and has met with critical acclaim. It is definitely a movie worth seeing.