Master storyteller and filmmaker Steven Spielberg whose works span and engage all ages as seen in “Jurassic Park,” War of the Worlds,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Schindler’s List,” “Empire of the Sun,” “Jaws” and “ET,” creates a never-before-seen perspective of America’s most beloved president in “Lincoln” as played by Daniel Day-Lewis, two-time Academy Award winner and this year’s Best Actor at the Golden Globe Awards for his portrayal of Lincoln.
Spielberg creates a gripping historical thriller during a brief time in history when Abraham Lincoln is at both the pinnacle and bottom of his career as a nation’s leader. The political genius that is Lincoln is brought to life on the big screen, inviting audiences directly into the heart and soul of Lincoln’s final achievements. The Lincoln who emerges is a man of raw paradoxes: funny and solemn, a playful storyteller and fierce power broker, a shrewd commander and a vulnerable father. But in his nation’s darkest hour, when the times demand the very best of people, he reaches from within himself for something powerful and everlasting.
This compact, immersive concept for the film enlivened Spielberg. It would, when all was said and done, engage his filmmaking instincts on a different level than any film that has come before in his extensively diverse filmography. Says Spielberg: “We came to focus on the last four months of Lincoln’s life because what he accomplished in that time was truly monumental. However, we wanted to show that he himself was a man, not a monument. We felt our best hope of doing justice to this immensely complicated person was to depict him in the midst of his most complex fight: to pass the 13th Amendment on the floor of the House of Representatives.”
“My movies more often are told through pictures, not words. But in this case, the pictures took second position to the incredible words of Abraham Lincoln and his presence,” Spielberg explains. “With ‘Lincoln,’ I was less interested in an outpouring of imagery than in letting the most human moments of this story evolve before us.”
In stripping Lincoln’s final days down to their most electrifying yet stark moments of debate, political machinations, family ties and private fears and hopes, Spielberg and Kushner uncovered the gripping—and unpredictably human—nature of a democracy’s greatest battle in action. “The film does have quite a bit of suspense,” he notes, “and it could, at times, even be seen as a kind of political thriller.”
Longtime Spielberg producing partner Kathleen Kennedy agrees that the film takes an interesting turn in the ongoing evolution of the director’s career. “Steven has always loved history and has made many movies with a historical context—and I think he recognized that some of the most interesting characters came from history,” she observes. “But Steven knew that with ‘Lincoln,’ he wouldn’t create a conventional biopic. Instead, he and Tony attempted to find the most intimate way to show the power of Lincoln’s achievements as President, through the exploration of the end of slavery and other key events that took place during his presidency.”
Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” provides an intimate immersion into the American leader’s most revealing moments, at a time when the dark shadow of slavery lifts and a country torn by war must be made whole. It is in this final four months the Lincoln’s full measure of the man—his passion and his humanity—came to bear on his defining battle: to plot a forward path for a shattered nation, against overwhelming odds and extreme public and personal pressure.
“Lincoln” will open February 20 in theaters from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.