• 12
  • Steven Spielberg (2012)
  • US
  • 150 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
4 out of 5

Director Steven Spielberg originally intended this biopic to be a much more expansive look at Lincoln's presidency; instead it concentrates on just four months in 1865, when he pushed the 13th Amendment through the House of Representatives, outlawing slavery and bringing an end to the Civil War. Abe is played with understated, folksy authority by an Oscar-winning Daniel Day-Lewis, and there are outstanding performances from Sally Field, who risks an unsympathetic role as the First Lady, and Tommy Lee Jones, relishing the rich dialogue as Radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens. The president is notably absent from the boorish barracking of the House - where an impressive ensemble of bewhiskered character actors holds juicy, eloquent sway - instead, he telegraphs his wishes via trustees such as Secretary of State William Seward (David Strathairn). The bulk of Lincoln takes place indoors, where cinematographer Janusz Kaminski paints chiaroscuro with candles and gaslight, making the glimpses of war all the more stirring for their scarcity. Marked by oratory, anecdote and verbal jousting, Spielberg's epic plays like The West Wing in stovepipe hats, and although it may be a little stolid for some, the film brings to life a moment of 19th-century political brinkmanship in captivating style.

Plot Summary

Premiere. Steven Spielberg's biopic of the 16th president of the United States. In his tumultuous final months in office, Abraham Lincoln faces a struggle to bring the Civil War to an end and unite a divided nation, while also bringing about legislation to abolish slavery. Starring an Oscar-winning Daniel Day-Lewis, with Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Cast and crew


Abraham Lincoln
Daniel Day-Lewis
Mary Todd Lincoln
Sally Field
William Seward
David Strathairn
Robert Lincoln
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
WN Bilbo
James Spader
Francis Preston Blair
Hal Holbrook
Thaddeus Stevens
Tommy Lee Jones
Robert Latham
John Hawkes
Alexander H Stephens
Jackie Earle Haley
Edwin M Stanton
Bruce McGill
Richard Schell
Tim Blake Nelson
Ulysses S Grant
Jared Harris
Fernando Wood
Lee Pace
Clay Hutchins
Walton Goggins


Steven Spielberg

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
20th Century Fox
Available on DVD and BluRay
Released 25 Jan 2013
Certificate 12
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment