Abraham Lincoln drove people crazy.  And, at the same time, he was so compelling a figure, you couldn't stay away. There wasn't an occasion for which Lincoln didn't have a corresponding story from his past. He was almost like the legendary TV detective Lieutenant Columbo--a very simple man with simple ways who was utterly brilliant and always had all the solutions.

Steven Spielberg's Lincoln occupies only a short period in history--the first third of 1865. The Civil War is in its fourth year and President Lincoln--played by Daniel Day-Lewis in one of the most stunning and unforgettable performances I have ever witnessed--has just been re-elected to a second term. The agenda for that second term is two-fold--ending slavery and ending the Civil War.

But many abolitionists--Pennsylvania Congressman Thaddeus Stevens chief among them--are afraid that that's too heavy a burden and would happily sacrifice a peace agreement IF it meant the emancipation amendment wouldn't make it. But Lincoln feels in his soul that both can and must be accomplished.

But there are many pro-Confederacy democrats--some, even, from the North--who cannot abide the thought of regarding everyone as equal or forcing those states that have seceded to rejoin the Union.

Lincoln's idea was bold. It was 1865, yet he was very aware of the perception of the United States on a global scale. He felt America needed to set an example. He was sickened by the concept of human beings as property and he knew a divided nation was a weakened nation.

None of his beliefs or actions were inherently political. It's just what he knew was the right thing to do--even if it meant butting heads with this wife, Mary Todd Lincoln--well-played by Sally Field. Mrs. Lincoln, while always supportive of her husband, was frightened by his radical philosophies because of the danger they could create for him. Also, they had lost a son three years prior and she had become a bit fragile.

Many recognizable faces dot the landscape throughout the film including Tommy Lee Jones, who's terrific as Thaddeus Stevens. It's not an unfamiliar Jones performance, but it's still good. Nobody does THAT quite like he does.

David Strathairn--who played Edward R. Murrow in Good Night. And Good Luck--is Lincoln's close friend and Secretary of State William Seward. You'll also run into Hal Holbrook, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader and many others. I've Googled all of their characters to learn more about each one of them.

Spielberg re-creates history vividly and creates palpable suspense. And Daniel Day-Lewis is so freakin' good, I actually missed Abraham Lincoln when I left the theatre.

I've always thought he was our greatest president. I can only imagine how the nation  grieved after his death in April of 1865.

Great movie. At some point, you really should see it.

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