At the Sundance Film Festival in January, Joseph Gordon-Levitt said that acting opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln was “uncanny.” He said, “I had absolutely no problem fully believing that I was standing across from and speaking to Abraham Lincoln.”
After seeing the trailer for Steven Spielberg’s long-in-the-works historical drama about the last four months of the president’s life, I have an inkling how Gordon-Levitt must have felt. There are no audio recordings of Lincoln’s voice, but when Day-Lewis concludes at the end, “…shall we stop this bleeding,” who doesn’t doubt that his is the voice of the Great Emancipator himself. It just feels and sounds… right.
Seeing Abraham Lincoln living and breathing on the screen is thrilling, especially since Hollywood hasn’t really given the 16th president his due since Henry Fonda played him in 1939. (Sorry Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.) Day-Lewis instills a sadness and grace that remind us of the incredible weight on his shoulders. As Spielberg said in the Google+ Hangout video that followed the online trailer premiere last night, “We treat him as a man, not a monument.”
It’s difficult to tell exactly where the movie picks up, but it’s understood that Lincoln has been re-elected, and that city on fire just might be one of the Southern cities in General Sherman’s path on his March to the Sea, which helped break the back of the Confederacy in December 1864. Don’t expect too many such action sequences, though; Spielberg said battlefield scenes take a back seat to Lincoln’s political struggles to end the war and pass the 13th amendment to guarantee the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation. When we first meet Lincoln, the Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address have already been written and delivered. His place in history is already assured. Yet the war rages on. READ FULL STORY