November 26, 2012
LINCOLN: FINE CINEMA, DUBIOUS POLITICS
"Lincoln" is a great evocation of the capital's culture and politics at the end of the Civil War.
Daniel Day-Lewis is superb as the president, but the real Oscar-winner is likely to be Sally Field, who manages to capture both the neurosthenia and dignity of Mary Todd Lincoln. Unfortunately, the politics portrayed here are far less complex than the characters of the protagonists. The Republican Radicals are presented as patriotic statesmen for betraying their commitments to social and political equality for Black Americans in order to secure a legal reform -- passage of the 13th Amendment. The ghastly century-long consequences of that betrayal, and of the sainted Abraham's unwillingness to actually liberate the South, are never made clear. As a result, the movie remains on the level of hagiography, and another chance to reconsider the hard questions of American history is lost.
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