Steven Spielberg’s film covering the last four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life in 1865 made its star, Daniel Day-Lewis, the first man ever to win three best actor Oscars. Hectic months they were, too. The American Civil War was still going on and Lincoln (Day-Lewis) was anxious to get the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution passed immediately to ensure that, whatever happened, freed slaves would not be re-enslaved. But in this he faces opposition or at least reluctance from his own Republican Party. Meanwhile, he agonises over whether or not to make a compromise peace with the Confederate enemy. This is not a film that panders to the blockbuster audience. Instead, it’s a very intelligent, highly dramatic study of politics good and bad, statesmanship and, of course, the creation of what, even allowing for Donald Trump, is still a great democracy. It’s riveting stuff, beautifully handled by Spielberg, and Day-Lewis gives the performance of his life in the title role. Showing to celebrate Independence Day with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, made the same year.
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