What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Steven Spielberg's Lincoln isn't a biographical chronicle of Abraham Lincoln's (Daniel Day-Lewis) life in office but rather a political drama about the passing of the 13th Amendment and the end of the Civil War. The most sensitive issues in the movie are its depiction of war (severed limbs and bloody battlefields filled with dead soldiers are seen) and occasional strong language, including many era-accurate (but hard to hear today) racial epithets. But overall, the violence is much tamer than in war movies like Saving Private Ryan or Glory, and Lincoln is an educational, entertaining drama that even some mature 5th graders might be ready to handle, if they watch with their parents. (That said, it does move somewhat slowly, so kids hooked on fast-paced entertainment may not be interested.)
  • Families can talk about why President Lincoln is still considered one of the most influential presidents of all time. What is the continued relevance of the 13th Amendment?
  • How does the movie's depiction of President Lincoln compare to what you know or have learned about him? Did anything surprise you about his political or personal life?
  • What does the movie tell us about how politics have changed since the 1860s? Do politicians still have to work together and make compromises, even if they fundamentally disagree?
  • How closely do you think Lincoln adheres to history? How many liberties with the facts do you think a movie like this can take? Why might filmmakers decide to do that?
  • How does Mary Todd Lincoln's emotional fragility -- in no small part spurred by the fear of one of her remaining sons going to fight in the war that her husband considers necessary -- impact Lincoln's situation?
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