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Lincoln (2012)

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As the American Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.

Director:

Steven Spielberg

Writers:

Tony Kushner (screenplay by), Doris Kearns Goodwin (based in part on the book "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" by)
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Popularity
902 ( 97)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 108 wins & 246 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Daniel Day-Lewis ... Abraham Lincoln
Sally Field ... Mary Todd Lincoln
David Strathairn ... William Seward
Joseph Gordon-Levitt ... Robert Lincoln
James Spader ... W.N. Bilbo
Hal Holbrook ... Preston Blair
Tommy Lee Jones ... Thaddeus Stevens
John Hawkes ... Robert Latham
Jackie Earle Haley ... Alexander Stephens
Bruce McGill ... Edwin Stanton
Tim Blake Nelson ... Richard Schell
Joseph Cross ... John Hay
Jared Harris ... Ulysses S. Grant
Lee Pace ... Fernando Wood
Peter McRobbie ... George Pendleton
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Storyline

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 <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | India

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 November 2012 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Untitled Steven Spielberg/Abraham Lincoln Project See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$65,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$944,308, 9 November 2012

Gross USA:

$182,207,973

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$275,293,450
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Daniel Day-Lewis is the seventh and, as of 2018, last actor from Gandhi (1982) to appear in a film for Steven Spielberg. Ben Kingsley appeared in Schindler's List (1993), Roshan Seth and Amrish Puri appeared in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Martin Sheen in Catch Me If You Can (2002), Nigel Hawthorne in Amistad (1997), and Richard Attenborough in Jurassic Park (1993). See more »

Goofs

When the President slams his hand on the desk to stop everyone from arguing, he hits his glasses, which move in front of his book. Two pans later, the glasses have disappeared. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Private Harold Green: [speaking to Lincoln on the battlefield] Some of us was in the Second Kansas Colored. We fought the Rebs at Jenkins' Ferry last April just after they killed every Negro soldier they captured at Poison Springs. So at Jenkins' Ferry, we decided warn't takin' no Reb prisoners. And we didn't leave a one of 'em alive. The ones of us that didn't die that day, we joined up with the 116th US Colored, sir, from Camp Nelson, Kentucky.
See more »

Crazy Credits

No opening credits except for the main title. See more »

Alternate Versions

For international releases, an additional prologue about the Civil War was added prior to the start of the film. It mostly shows archive photos with the prologue text included in it. This was decided by the studio's marketing department in its research which realized that while many non-American audiences know of the titular character, most of them are not familiar with the war itself. See more »


Soundtracks

Three Forks of Hell
Performed and Arranged by Jim Taylor
Courtesy of Gourd Music
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
By its very making, director Steven Spielberg has written the greatest obituary for one of the greatest leaders of the modern world.
30 May 2014 | by LloydBayerSee all my reviews

The very mention of a Steven Spielberg project and everyone goes bug-eyed in excitement and curiosity; everyone from casual movie goers to mainstream critics to cinema house managers. Now reunite Spielberg with long standing producing partner Kathleen Kennedy, throw in a multi-award winning star cast lead by Daniel Day-Lewis and a story about one of the most revered Presidents in US history and you have an Academy Award nominated movie by default. Lincoln has all these fine qualities and a whole lot more. This is not just a great film for the reasons stated above, or because it is very easy to praise a film directed by Spielberg. This is also not just a masterpiece or a very important and powerful film for the sake of calling it so. From the drawing boards to its last take, Lincoln is every bit exquisitely fashioned filmmaking — an amalgamation of art, literature, politics, society, history, and most importantly, humanism.

Here's a brief re-cap to get you up to speed on the relevance of the American Civil War (1861 to 1865) as depicted in the film. The United States of America is divided as cotton rich states of the South refuse to phase out slavery. After Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln secures the Presidency, almost a dozen states in the South pull out of the 'Union' and become the Confederate States of America. As a bloody civil war rages between North and South, the film's story begins with President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. This is the Commander and Chief of the armed forces calling for slavery to be abolished in all states by seeking a landmark constitutional amendment. For this to happen, Lincoln must procure enough votes through Congress for a stay order on making slavery illegal anywhere in America. Challenged with factions within his Republican party, Lincoln becomes his own worst enemy in a daunting personal crisis: save thousands of lives by ending the war or prolong the war in favour of ending slavery.

Running at 150 minutes, this film is a slow burner with extensive dialogues and frequent courthouse debates; but like the trudging power of a steam locomotive, Lincoln pushes forward with remarkable pace while never losing sight of its destination. Piloting this powerhouse of a film is Daniel Day-Lewis in easily his finest hour as a method actor. His Lincoln is tall and bent over with war-stressed fatigue and a shrill voice, but armed with a quiver full of wisdom and remedial anecdotes for when push comes to shove. Throughout the narrative Lincoln is torn within as he manages his duties as the President of a nation, as a father who has lost a son, and as a husband who must confide in his wife when decisions become complex. This is also when I must mention Sally Field in another fine delivery as First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and the epitome of the phrase 'Behind every great man is a woman'. Field's Mary is a tragic character whose depiction of a bleeding heart is memorable in a scene where she confronts Lincoln as the father of their children, not a man with immense power. With strong characterisation forming the flesh and blood of the film, you can also expect riveting roles from Tommy Lee Jones and David Strathairn, besides a multitude of top actors.

This is one of the most important films of the year and perhaps even the times we live in. By its very making, Spielberg has written the greatest obituary for one of the greatest leaders of the modern world. Lincoln is to Steven Spielberg what Gandhi is to Richard Attenborough; the commonality being crucial moments in history, rather than a history lesson per se. If I have to nit-pick, I suspect there could be historical anomalies in the narrative if this film is solely considered a biopic. This is why I strongly recommend the film as a political drama rather than a componential biography. Is it safe to say that President Abraham Lincoln was a self-made man? That he was extremely intelligent despite dropping out of school? That he changed the future of an entire nation? That Barak Obama is the current President of the United States of America because Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery? If you said 'yes' to any of these questions then Lincoln is more than just an Academy Award magnet—it is a landmark film made by people reiterating that freedom is a birth right for people everywhere.


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