Four Score and Seven Years Ago… {Lincoln Movie Review}

When I think of Abraham Lincoln three things come to mind 1) honest 2) abolishing slavery and 3) Gettysburg Address. I actually love history (we’ve discussed how I am a nerd, right?), but going into this movie I had a very simple view of Abraham Lincoln. I have now been enlightened.


What I discovered and loved about Lincoln is that while he was a great orator and story teller, Lincoln was also a politician…just like the rest of them.

The focus of this movie is the last four months of Lincoln’s life or rather what happens during the last four months of his life (to say the movie is solely about him would be a lie). It’s the end of the Civil War – the North has the upper hand and really, Lincoln could have ended it whenever he wanted. But, there’s that whole 13th Amendment thing. Lincoln needs it to pass it through the House of Representatives before he’s willing to to talk peace. He feels (and sadly, probably rightly so) that if he doesn’t end slavery now, he’s not going to end it after the war is over. {Just think about that for a minute.} Everyone thinks he’s nuts. In order for this to happen he needs at least 20 votes/abstentions from the Democrats (remember when Republicans were the liberal party?) and Lincoln needs to do anything and everything he can to get those votes. ANYTHING.


This is where the (amazing) supporting cast comes into play. A large chunk of this movie consists of a bunch of white men, with crazy facial hair, screaming at each other in a small room. I’m sure you’re thinking “Michelle, I would rather watch cheese mold”, and it really could have downhill quickly, but I assure you, it’s captivating. Tony Kushner’s screenplay is fast paced and witty (I was surprised at how much I laughed) and in the end I waited with baited breath to hear the final vote from these men… even though I knew the end game.

Woven into the passing of the 13th Amendment is Lincoln’s story. You see both sides of Lincoln — the great orator and storyteller (who, does happen to tell some great stories throughout the movie), as well as Lincoln at home – with his children, with his wife, and with his closest confidants – where you see the drive, the passion, the focus, and the sadness of his life. This story could not be told without Daniel Day-Lewis playing Lincoln — his portrayal is just that amazing.


That is NOT a drawing.

There are also some great supporting actors. Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddus Stevens is a huge standout as a hardcore Republican abolitionist who spars with Lincoln at times because of his passion. He completely steals every scene that he’s in and even made me cry near the end of the movie (spoiler: I cried a lot).


James Spader is also a scene stealer (playing W. N. Bilbo – one of Secretary of the State Seward’s henchmen) – who almost made me cry tears of laughter. I mean, just look at that mustache…


And while Joseph Gordon Levitt had a very small part as Lincoln’s oldest son, Robert, he had one of the most disturbing and emotional scenes with Daniel Day-Lewis and completely held his own. It was through their scenes where you saw that Lincoln was, indeed, a vulnerable man.


I watched this movie the day after election day, so I might have in a slightly emotional state and mindset, but it was definitely a reminder. A reminder of where our country came from, how far we’ve risen, and how far we still have to go – especially when it comes to equality. But, it also made me think about how far one person’s determine can go and how much progress can be made when there is compromise.


My verdict? Go see this movie (I know, I say this a lot, but I REALLY REALLY mean it). Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis make it big-screen worthy. Be prepared for some lengthy speeches and a lot of talking, but also a lot amazing history. Oh, and don’t forget to bring tissues. Even if your date makes fun of you.

While I did receive free admission to this movie for myself and a guest – all opinions and recommendations are my own.


  1. says

    Hmmm I really wasn’t going to go see this one because the trailer kind of made it look boring to me… but your review makes me want to see it! Maybe you should be making their trailers for them, haha. Plus, I’m a die-hard Joseph Gordon Levitt fan, so it’s definitely a must-see now that I know he’s in it!

    *** I’d really love it if you’d participate in my new blog link-up series Shopping List Friday! (See my blog for more details).
    Miranda @ Biting Life recently posted..Shopping List Friday #4

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