Movie Review: “Lincoln”

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm.

(Photo: Dreamworks)

Summary: Directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg, a biopic on Abraham Lincoln and his alleged role in abolishing slavery.

Review: There are two pieces to Lincoln: one, a beautiful film by the master of cinema, Steven Spielberg. He cast a ferocious set of actors such as Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, Sally Field as Lincoln’s wife and Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens. Along with a cast of many others, Lincoln overflows with god-like acting chops, which will result in deserving Oscar nods for Lewis and Field. Furthermore, the cinematography is stunning with Spielberg’s signature style in every frame. No one can deny the care Spielberg took in crafting exquisite cinema.

Although the script plays like a series of inspirational monologues, for the most part, there are sharp and thought-provoking sound bites on humanity that will stay with the viewer long after they leave the theater. However, Lincoln is not a movie about Abraham Lincoln — it’s about a man in an Abe costume posing as someone who had overwhelming love for African-Americans, when in reality that was far from the Abraham Lincoln documented in history.  Oh, Hollywood.

The other piece of Lincoln: remixed and revisionist history.  As a student of African-American history, I was deeply disturbed about the film’s historical inaccuracies. Sure, a film can’t get everything right, but the cardinal sin: Lincoln presented the end of slavery as if African-Americans idly waited and obediently prayed for rich white men to make a decision on their lives (despite a quick scene in the beginning with Black soldiers — Tony nominee Colman Domingo and British actor David Oyelowo — delicately asking Lincoln to abolish slavery). This was far from the case. African-Americans had a hand in abolishing slavery and made their own demands — similar to what African-Americans accomplished during the civil rights movement. In short, Abraham Lincoln’s goal was to preserve the Union — not save Black people. There is no excuse for a chunk of historical fact missing from the 150-minute film.

That said, this is Hollywood.  Similar to what Spike Lee said about Spielberg’s Amistad in 1998, the film was “about a white lawyer.  It should have been about the slaves.”  Some things never change…

Lincoln is in theaters now.

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