4.1 29
Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn


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Steven Spielberg helms his long-in-the-making biopic of Abraham Lincoln for DreamWorks and Touchstone Pictures. Daniel Day-Lewis portrays the former head of state in the Tony Kushner-penned adaptation of Doris Kearns Goodwin's book See more details below


Steven Spielberg helms his long-in-the-making biopic of Abraham Lincoln for DreamWorks and Touchstone Pictures. Daniel Day-Lewis portrays the former head of state in the Tony Kushner-penned adaptation of Doris Kearns Goodwin's book Team of Rivals, which chronicles the President's time in office between 1861 and 1865 as he dealt with personal demons and politics during the Civil War. Sally Field leads a co-starring cast that includes Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Academy Award nominee John Hawkes.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Steven Spielberg has talked for years about doing a film on Abraham Lincoln, but it turns out that when he finally got around to doing it, the finished movie feels less like his than it does the screenwriter's -- Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner. The movie stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president, focusing on the last few months of Lincoln's life as he tries to manipulate Congress into passing the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which would allow people to vote regardless of race and officially end slavery. Simultaneously, he attempts to bring about a peaceful end to the Civil War. These two goals appear to be mutually exclusive, a point established in an early scene where Lincoln confers with his most trusted political advisor, Secretary of State William Seward (David Strathairn). The film is so focused on the political process -- the horse-trading, deception, and arm-twisting Lincoln and Seward perform to achieve their goals -- that it feels not unlike an extended episode of The West Wing. However, instead of Aaron Sorkin's ping-pong, Mamet-inspired patter, we are treated to Tony Kushner's almost Shakespearean dialogue. The characters speak in a formal yet often flowery vernacular that's invested with both remarkable imagery and witty insults, and Spielberg has assembled a flawless cast who each bring out the music in Kushner's words. First among equals is, of course, two-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis, an actor of uncommon skill who manages to evoke Lincoln in all his honor and glory without once making him appear like a wax figure. This is a living and breathing human being who yearns to do the right thing in every instance, but is ripped to shreds emotionally when he has to deal with his emotionally high-strung, grieving wife (Sally Field). To rally people to his cause at different points during the film, Lincoln delivers a Christlike parable about some historical event or an anecdote from his own life, and Day-Lewis spins these yarns with such folksy authority that the audience in the theater is sucked into his rhetorical magic just as inevitably as the characters he's speaking to onscreen. We hang on his every word, just as we do a commanding performance in live theater. The whole ensemble is arguably one of the greatest casts ever assembled. Tommy Lee Jones gets some of the best lines as an irascible congressman who has fought his whole career to give slaves both freedom and full citizenship -- it's the kind of performance that gets people nominated for Supporting Actor awards. James Spader steals all of his scenes playing a libidinous, extroverted political middleman responsible, along with a pair of cronies played by Tim Blake Nelson and John Hawkes, for making the deals with politicians Lincoln can't be seen doing himself. Each time any of the actors open their mouths, you marvel at how right they are for the part, and how gloriously they put across Kushner's lines. In large part because the dialogue is both so good and so plentiful, Lincoln is closer to a play than a movie, and this doesn't always work to Spielberg's strengths as a director. With words this beautiful, very little is needed to augment them, so most attempts to underscore the dialogue with say a symbolic thunder clap or overdone strings feel like a mistake, though he never smothers the movie in melodrama. The single biggest flaw is that they don't stick the landing. There's a superb shot that the movie should end on, but the film goes on for another ten minutes giving us scenes that we thankfully don't expect, yet, at the same time, we don't really want. Spielberg and longtime cinematographer Janusz Kaminski light the performers in ways that accentuate their earnestness, underscoring the filmmaker's obvious reverence for the material without turning these legendary figures into simple symbols of good. All of the characters remain troubled, three-dimensional people, and that turns out to be the best element of the movie, because Kushner manages to invest us in these people and their desires. What could easily have become a dry civics lesson is in fact loaded with laughs, inspiring triumphs, a subtle but undeniable awe for one of the country's defining figures, and some of the richest language you can find at the movies. It's a superior achievement for Kushner, and makes for one of the best of Spielberg's "serious" movies.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Walt Disney Video
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

DVD feature film + bonus:; The journey to Lincoln - Steven Spielberg and his collaborators discuss the challenges and excitement of bringing this story of a complex and very human president to the screen

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Daniel Day-Lewis Abraham Lincoln
Sally Field Mary Todd Lincoln
David Strathairn William Seward
Joseph Gordon-Levitt Robert Lincoln
James Spader W.N. Bilbo
Hal Holbrook Preston Blair
Tommy Lee Jones Thaddeus Stevens
John Hawkes Robert Latham
Jackie Earle Haley Alexander Stephens
Bruce McGill Edwin Stanton
Tim Blake Nelson Richard Schell
Joseph Cross John Hay
Jared Harris Ulysses S. Grant
Lee Pace Fernando Wood
Peter McRobbie George Pendleton
Gulliver McGrath Tad Lincoln
Gloria Reuben Elizabeth Keckley
Jeremy Strong John Nicolay
Michael Stuhlbarg George Yeaman
Boris McGiver Alexander Coffroth
David Costabile James Ashley
Stephen Spinella Asa Vintner Litton
Walton Goggins Clay Hawkins
David Warshofsky William Hutton
Colman Domingo Private Harold Green
David Oyelowo Corporal Ira Clark
Lukas Haas First White Soldier
Dane DeHaan Second White Soldier
Carlos Thompson Navy Yard - Shouting Soldier
Bill Camp Mr. Jolly
Elizabeth Marvel Mrs. Jolly
Byron Jennings Montgomery Blair
Julie White Elizabeth Blair Lee
Charmaine Crowell-White Minerva--Blair's Servant
Ralph D. Edlow Leo - Blair's Servant
Grainger Hines Gideon Welles
Richard Topol James Speed
Walt Smith William Fessenden
Dakin Matthews John Usher
James Ike Eichling William Dennison
Wayne Duvall Senator Bluff Wade
Bill Raymond Schuyler Colfax
Michael Kennedy Hiram Price
Christopher Boyer General Robert E. Lee
Ford Flannagan White House Doorkeeper - Tom Pendel
Bob Ayers White House Petitioner
Christopher Cartmill Leonard Grover
Robert Peters Jacob Graylor
John Moon Edwin LeClerk
Kevin O'Donnell Charles Hanson
Jamie Horton Giles Stuart
Joseph Dellinger Nelson Merrick
Richard Warner Homer Benson
Elijah Chester Union Army Officer
Dave Hager Captain Nathan Saunders - River Queen
Sean Haggerty Officer in Peace Commissioners Exchange
Michael Shiflett Senator R.M.T. Hunter
Gregory Itzin Judge John A. Campbell
Stephen Dunn Petersburg Siege Lines - Confederate Officer
Stephen McKinley Henderson William Slade
Chase Edmunds Willie Lincoln
John Hutton Senator Charles Sumner
Robert Ruffin Major Thompson Eckert
Drew Sease David
John Lescault Gustavus Fox
Scott Wichmann Charles Benjamin
Adam Driver Samuel Beckwith
William Kaffenberger John A. Casson
Jean Kennedy Smith Woman Shouter
Shirley Augustine Woman Shouter
Gregory Hosaflook John F. McKenzie
Larry Van Hoose John A. Casson
Sarah Wylie Woman Shouter
Joe Kerkes Andrew E. Finck
Margaret Ann McGowan Woman Shouter
James Batchelder Howard Guillefoyle
Hilary Montgomery Woman Shouter
Asa-Luke Twocrow Ely Parker
Lancer Shull Union Soldier - Bodyguard
George Turman Military Hospital Doctor
C. Brandon Marshall Rufus Warren
Robert Wilharm Wounded Soldier
Kevin Kline Wounded Soldier
Paul Gowans Wounded Soldier
John Jones Wounded Soldier
S. Epatha Merkerson Lydia Smith
Joseph Miller Wounded Soldier
John Bellemer Faust
Mary Dunleavy Marguerite
Christopher Evan Welch Clerk - Edward McPherson
Alan Sader Sergeant at Arms
Gannon McHale Aaron Haddam
Ken Lambert Augustus Benjamin
Tom Belgrey Arthur Bentleigh
Ted Johnson John Ellis
Don Henderson Baker Walter Appleton
Raynor Scheine Josiah S. "Beanpole" Burton
Armistead Nelson Wellford Nehemiah Cleary
Michael Ruff Harold Hollister
Robert Shepherd Dr. Joseph K. Barnes
Rich Wills House of Representatives - Soldier One
Stephen Bozzo House of Representatives - Soldier Two
Edward McDonald Daniel G. Stuart
Christopher Alan Stewart Sergeant-Grant's HQ
Teddy Eck Corporal-Grant's HQ
Todd Fletcher Walter H. Washburn
Charles Kinney Myer Strauss
Joseph Carlson Joseph Marstern
Michael Goodwin Chilton A. Elliot
Thomas Aldridge House of Representatives Member
Sidney Blackmer House of Representatives Member
Billy Caldwell House of Representatives Member
Glenn Crone House of Representatives Member
Martin D. Dew House of Representatives Member
David Doersch Actor Demon Afrit
Stephen Dunford Actor Swordsman
Theodore Ewald House of Representatives
Joseph Frances Filipowski House of Representatives - Rebel Shouter
David Graham House of Representatives-Rebel Shouter
Joe Inscoe House of Representatives Member
Raymond Johnson House of Representatives Member
Gary Keener House of Representatives Member
Henry Kidd House of Representatives - Rebel Shouter
Benjamin Shirley House of Representatives - Rebel Shouter
Todd Hunter House of Representatives Member

Technical Credits
Steven Spielberg Director,Producer
Curt Beech Art Director
Ben Burtt Sound/Sound Designer
Lois Burwell Makeup
Rick Carter Production Designer
Leo Corey Castellano Makeup
David Crank Art Director
Leslie Devlin Makeup
Scott Herbertson Set Decoration/Design
Jim Hewitt Set Decoration/Design
Joanna Johnston Costumes/Costume Designer
Michael Kahn Editor
Janusz Kaminski Cinematographer
Avy Kaufman Casting
Kathleen Kennedy Producer
Jonathan King Executive Producer
Kristie Macosko Krieger Co-producer
Tony Kushner Screenwriter
Daniel Lupi Executive Producer
Stuart McCowan Sound Editor
Leslie McDonald Art Director
Riccardo Muti Musical Direction/Supervision
Jeff Skoll Executive Producer
Adam Somner Asst. Director,Co-producer
Susan Stepanian Makeup
Michael H. Ward Set Decoration/Design
John Williams [composer] Score Composer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Lincoln
1. Opening Titles
2. Lincoln's Dream
3. A New Amendment
4. War Powers
5. The House Debate
6. Getting Out the Vote
7. Seeds of Time
8. Grand Reception
9. The Fallen at Wilmington
10. No Sixteen-Year-Olds Left
11. Equality Under the Law
12. Robert's Ambition
13. Bipartisan Support
14. Fairness and Freedom
15. The Morning of the Vote
16. This is History
17. Celebration
18. Petersburg Battlefield
19. Now He Belongs to the Ages
20. Credits


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