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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
1,288 ( 13)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 108 wins & 245 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, Limited Release

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

Elizabeth Marvel, who plays Mrs. Jolly from Jeff City, Mo., would - four years later - go on to play the president of the United States as well; in 2016, she played the fictional US President Elizabeth Keane on the series Homeland (2011). See more »

Goofs

Throughout the speech by Lincoln to his cabinet which begins with him slamming the table and saying, "I can't listen to this anymore..." Seward rests his clasped hands under his chin. As Lincoln says "...with the fate of human dignity in our hands" Seward lowers his hands from his chin. In the very next shot, as Lincoln shouts "Now! Now! Now!", Seward's hands are once again clasped under his chin resulting in a "jump cut." 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 »

Connections

Featured in Brain Dump: The Apu That I Know (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

Battle Cry of Freedom
Music by George Frederick Root
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Patient and engaging while mostly avoiding sentimentality
23 February 2013 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

I approached this film with caution and did so for several reasons. First and foremost, this is Oscars season and this type of film is just what one expects to come out and be showered with Oscar buzz – and quite often these films are found to be lacking once they are out of this period and on their own. The second reason was related and it was that I didn't for a second think that this film would be able to go for more than two minutes without the heroic music coming up, a soft focus being slapped on the lens and someone giving a great speech about the morality of everything while the camera cuts to those around looking teary eyed and yet full of admiration. In other words I worried that this would simply be a more expensive version of The West Wing season 1.

Although the film does rather fall into these traps occasionally, it is by no means seriously flawed since the majority of the film is patience and very well delivered. We focus on the final few years of Lincoln's life, specifically the period towards the end of the war where slavery was abolished by Constitutional amendment. As such the film is about political wrangling and the determination to stay the course with the goal even though it would be difficult and smart politics suggested to not risk the bigger prize (peace) at the expense of an aspiration. The film shows this very well and it manages to be patient without being slow – which is quite the achievement considering that the film is essentially men in rooms talking. The politicking was well delivered so that it wasn't dull but wasn't falsely sped up. The sentimentality is kept to a surprisingly low. It is still there of course and the camera frequently looks for a heroic frame and the music often reminds us the grandeur of what we are seeing, but it doesn't overdo it too much and certainly nowhere near the levels I feared.

Day Lewis is perhaps a given for the Oscar. His Lincoln is certainly a spot on creation – he comes over as heroic and steadfast without being mythicalised by his own performance. He really gives an impression of the man's spirit throughout the film. The supporting cast is so deep in names and faces that it is hard to know where to start; being honest, at times I did find it a little distracting as a parade came across the screen – seemingly all from TV shows I watch or films I had seen, I suspect I could be quite far down the cast list before I found someone I couldn't place. Aside from this distracting a little, it does mean the cast is deep in talent and everyone does well. Tommy Lee Jones in particular adds passion and color to all his scenes and the film benefits from his performance. Field is perhaps not as good – although in fairness I didn't think the personal side to the story worked as well as the rest – and since this is her parts, maybe that is why I didn't like her performance as much. Spielberg's direction is very well paced; shots are very well picked and the camera is very patient in its movement.

Lincoln didn't blow me away but it did quietly impress me. Part of the reason for this is that the film doesn't go all out for emotion or history or sentimentality, it simply lets it happen in the main and manages to keep these traps to a comparative minimum that really helps the film. It is long but never boring, respectful but never overly so.


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