Abraham Lincoln is, without a doubt, one of the best-known presidents of the United States. His likeness is recognized like that of a modern day superstar and the profound effect he has had on American history is equalled only by few. His assassination, further adds to the mystique surrounding the man and the legend. So when Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" arrived for review, I was eager to take a closer look at it, of course.
"Lincoln" is not as much a biopic in that it covers a long span of Lincoln's life but instead narrows in on the last four months of his life, which also contained his greatest political achievement, the uniform abolition of slavery across all states and the ending of the Civil War.
At the heart of the film is Lincoln's fight to pass the 13th Amendment through the House of Representatives. It is a struggle for votes and Lincoln has to use all of his charisma, influence and political cunning to ensure the new anti-slavery will finally go into effect, despite the vehement opposition he finds from many of the representatives. To make matters worse, the Civil War and its massive casualties weigh heavy on the president, and while he tries to put an end to the war, he also knows full well that doing so before the 13th Amendment is passed would mean he would lose all coercive power over the issue and it would fail to be written into law. Thus, the president spends countless hours, fighting his demons as he weighs his options and continues his political tightrope walk towards a better future.
A lot has been said about Daniel Day-Lewis' performance as Abraham Lincoln and it is safe to say that his performance is without a doubt one of the true highlights of the movie. It is always fascinating to watch a high caliber actor disappear in the part he's playing, but Daniel Day-Lewis has the amazing ability to completely transform every time he tackles a role. His mannerisms, his look, his voice, his speech pattern, everything is different. The transformation is so complete that it is easy to forget that he is actually an English actor, who is merely slipping into a part. Very few actors can do this with such perfection as Daniel Day-Lewis, and fewer still can do it routinely, creating completely unique and different characters every time they make a movie. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that he won the Oscar for best actor this year for his performance in "Lincoln." From the first seconds you see him on the screen you know exactly, why.
But even with Daniel Day-Lewis effortlessly eclipsing everyone else on the screen, the movie features a strong cast throughout. Whether it is Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt or James Spader, everyone is at their best, creating tangible characters that breathe life into this piece of history.
Marvelously put together with a sure hand, Steven Spielberg and his long-time cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, create a look into the past that feel authentic on every level. Even the smallest details reflect the level of attention that has been paid to this production, not only in terms of the cast and the script itself, but also in terms of creating a world that oozes authenticity.
Arriving as a 4-disc Blu-Ray set, "Lincoln" offers up a 1080p high definition that is of pristine quality throughout. With deep black levels, the transfer has a visual depth that is stunning and is the foundation of the moody cinematography of the film. With an exceptional level of detail, the image looks crisp and sharply defined, bringing out the best of the high definition format. Strong colors and natural flesh tones further add to the impression that this film is truly a look back in time.
The audio on the release is equally impressive. Balanced at al times and with solid bass extension, the track is making active use of the surround channels while also making sure dialogues are always understandable. John Williams' orchestral score is working its way through the scenes with clarity and transparency that allows you to pinpoint individual instruments in the orchestra, even within each orchestra section.
The first disc of the set contains the movie itself, spiced up by two featurettes that give you a closer look behind the scenes. THe second disc features a number of additional featurettes, each covering a different aspect of the production, each featuring interviews with countless cast and crew members.
The third disc of the set offers you the DVD version of the film, while the fourth disc contains a digital copy.
"Lincoln" is another one of Steven Spielberg's landmarks as he keeps adding monuments to his career path. It may not be as flashy as one may have expected, but its is the solemnity of the film that perfectly reflects the subject matter that gives it its power. The fact that it is never sensational deepens that impression down to the film's final minutes. No question, this is a disc you have to own!