Spielberg’s Lincoln is One for the History Books

Politics has never been as ugly as it was in our earliest years as a young nation. If there were ever any doubt Steven Spielberg puts it to rest in the telling of the battles fought – on the field and off – in the final four months of Lincoln’s presidency. In these last few months before his assassination in 1865, Lincoln was determined not only to end the Civil War and unite the country, but to end slavery at the same time. Steven Spielberg focuses on the great fight he had ahead of him, trying to get the 14th Amendment passed in the House of Representatives, where he had full support of the Republicans, but needed to sway at least 20 Democrats to vote with them to secure a two-thirds majority.

Rated PG-13 because of the short opening scene on the battlefield where combat was fought hand-to-hand, Lincoln otherwise is a slow-moving, highly cerebral, two-and-a-half-hour crash-course on the Democratic process necessary in amending the Constitution of the United States. While most of the political dialogue will go straight over the majority of thirteen-year-olds’ heads (and even those of us much older), the overall impressions made from the movie and the historical and personal lessons therein will be invaluable.

Unlike most of Spielberg’s work, which relies heavily on great imagery, Lincoln relies more on great dialogue, and it is replete with that. The characters are richly developed and the cast outstanding: Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, Tommy Lee Jones as early abolitionist and Radical Republican, Senator Thaddeus Stevens and David Spader, as W.N. Bilbo, one of America’s early lobbyists – a very dicey job for that time period.

It would be hard not to walk away from this movie without even greater love and respect for our 16th President, who persevered against all odds to do what he felt right for our country and set us on a path of true freedom and equality for all. The stalwart military leader and brilliant politician of the history books becomes human… from his imperfect marriage to the vulnerability he displays as a father, Spielberg’s Lincoln is a must-see biopic for all generations.

Chris Bird is a designer, WAHM of one and pilot’s wife living in Colorado. She writes about family travel as Standby Traveling Mom on TravelingMom.com as well as her many misadventures and life in between at MamaBirdsBlog.com. Follow her on Twitter.