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In 1865, as the American Civil War winds inexorably toward conclusion, U.S. president Abraham Lincoln endeavors to achieve passage of the landmark constitutional amendment which will forever ban slavery from the United States. However, his task is a race against time, for peace may come at any time, and if it comes before the amendment is passed, the returning southern states will stop it before it can become law. Lincoln must, by almost any means possible, obtain enough votes from a recalcitrant Congress before peace arrives and it is too late. Yet the president is torn, as an early peace would save thousands of lives. As the nation confronts its conscience over the freedom of its entire population, Lincoln faces his own crisis of conscience -- end slavery or end the war. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
When President Lincoln is expressing his frustrations over the pending vote of the 13th amendment, he slams his hand on the table. The gesture would surely raise a visible reaction by those present. Secretary of War Stanton is appropriately startled. However, sitting behind the president is his personal secretary John Nicolay whose expression and clenched arms never changes throughout the lengthy shot. This indicates that Daniel Day-Lewis performed the scene in front of a green screen. The inanimate Nicolay was part of the C.G.I. scenery inserted by the technical editor. As the angle of the camera reverses in the subsequent scene, Seward remains the only "live" character in the shot with Lincoln. Congressman James Ashley, Preston and Montgomery Blair are motionless, inanimate parts of the background. See more »
[pounds his hand on a table as his cabinet squabbles]
I can't listen to this anymore. I can't accomplish a goddamn thing of any worth until we cure ourselves of slavery and end this pestilential war! I wonder if any of you or anyone else knows it. I know! I need this! This amendment is that cure! We've stepped out upon the world stage now. Now! With the fate of human dignity in our hands. Blood's been spilled to afford us this moment now! Now! Now! And you grouse so and heckle and dodge about ...
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I remember fondly, Henry Fonda and Raymond Massey as Lincolns in "Young Mr.Lincoln" and "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" They gave remarkable performances. But, here and now in this extraordinary Steven Spielberg/Tony Kushner version, the illusion is complete. I was watching the president and not for a moment thought of the actor. That in itself is close to unique. I left the theater with the feeling I've just had an out of body experience. Everything around the central performance - and I call it a performance because I don't know what else to call it - falls into place in a miraculous way. The photography, the production design, the wardrobe made it possible to actually smell the period. Congratulations and thank you.
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