I first saw Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln a week after it came out in 2012, and then again this weekend, which had me wondering about the film’s inaccuracies. The film brilliantly describes the struggle of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War in his attempt to get the Emancipation Proclamation passed. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the almost too convincing Abraham Lincoln, Sally Fields as his wife Mary Todd Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens (a strong supporter of Lincoln as a vocal abolitionist), the movie is sure to make those two and half hours of your life go by quickly with all the on screen dramatic acting.
Abraham Lincoln is caught between his morals of freeing the African American people and his profession of ending the war and uniting the union, and so he struggles to pass his idea of the Emancipation Proclamation through Congress and even into the Confederate territory (as the proclamation outlawed slavery in all parts of the country except the four Border States).After meeting with soldiers of both white and black race, Lincoln decides he has to move forward with the 13th Amendment since it is the only way to full end slavery in the nation. Due to all the political chaos in his cabinet and in Congress, Lincoln must then depend on certain lobbyists to persuade people to vote for his bill, and the entire film revolves around his strife to get the law passed as he still deals with his personal issues with his family and the people around him in Congress.
As with any time piece film, the case of historical inaccuracies are to be expected as these things are sometimes out of control of the filmmakers, even if one of them is Steven Spielberg. Film wise, the names of the delegates who voted against the ratification of the bill were changed to avoid having the actual family members of the real nay-sayers receive backlash. (Also reminded of “His name is Mudd?” The name carries on). However, what bothered me most was that Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was not well received across the nation as the people thought Lincoln’s two minute speech was nothing compare to Edward Evertt’s two hour speech just before him. Thus when the soldiers recite his speech to Lincoln, this would have not been the case as it was not seen as a well made speech until after his death. Another inaccuracy would be that several of the states in the movie that voted had actually voted the other way on the issue. A prominent example would be Connecticut, which first caught my eye since I wondered why a state from the North would vote against the bill, and then I was reassured when a current Connecticut state senator wrote a letter to Spielberg for this strong inaccuracy. However, the most infuriating to me would be Lincoln’s death. I read this amazing book about Booth’s escape from killing Lincoln (that I cannot remember the title) and it stated that Lincoln was rushed over into a church minutes after his wound and was then stripped for doctors to examine him up to eight hours later.
The movie takes place over the course of a year and a half, from around Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg address (November 19, 1863) to his death on April 15, 1865; however the most part of the film revolves on the passing of the 13th Amendment, passed on April 8, 1864. There are several time inaccuracies that are to be dealt with, including the fact that Stevens yells back at another Congress member in the House, which is inaccurate as that you could not refer to another congress member back then but rather had to wait your turn and be called on to refer to everyone as a whole. Also, Sally Fields is ten years older than Lincoln and twenty years older than Mary Todd Lincoln, but she portrayed Mary well, so hats off to her. Cursing was also not of the time period (as there are several occasions that has said words being uttered. Other time inaccuracies include the use of the word sniper which were called sharp shooters, and even when Lincoln’s face was referred to as being on the $0.50 cent, which would have not existed during that time.
In all, I think the film did well in its job to portray the struggle of Lincoln during this time. Day-Lewis marvelously devotes his entire body and soul into playing Lincoln that it is very easy to overlook the slight historical inaccuracies found before. While many people might find the lack of action or motion to be boring, the added suspense of such an already escalating drama makes the film a must watch for all film goers, even though the two and a half time period might be off putting to several movie goers. Once can sense Spielberg’s sense of direction in the film as he dominates the entire cinematography with his signature trademarks, and Sally Field’s character’s problems only add to the extravagant acting the cast overall had enacted to make the film a must watch.
Despite the fact that the film is often accredited to an awfully inaccurate ending that diminished the entire story line of the movie that was strongly built into place for the last 2 hours, the film still closes well enough to be considered a great and a watch list worthy movie. The drama carried along the story quite well as this devoted a large time to the conscious thinking and strategizing of the viewer in order to understand what the context was and in order to understand what the struggle was, this making Lincoln’s ordeal just that much more close to home and personal to the audience. In total, this was the best thing that has ever happened to Lincoln at a theater . . . pun intended.
So, I am nitpicking too much or did those things bother anyone else as well?