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Still shot from the movie: Lincoln.


As the people of the United States battle the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) also battles a war with the leaders of government as he tries to abolish slavery.

Overall Grade: A-
Violence: C
Sexual Content: A-
Language: D+
Drugs/Alcohol: C
Release Date: 09 Nov 2012
Run Time: 150
MPAA Rating: PG-13


In-Depth Review

Abraham Lincoln appears to be the politician of the hour in Hollywood with three films about him in the last couple of years: The Conspirator, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and Abraham Lincoln vs. The Zombies. Fortunately the newest release, simply titled Lincoln, runs in the vein of The Conspirator and not the supernatural.

Daniel Day-Lewis takes on the role of America’s 16th president during the bleak and bitter days of the Civil War. With the body count steadily rising thanks to the brutal battles fought in the mud and stench of the combat zone, Lincoln is eager to stop the bloodshed. But he is just as interested in ensuring the eradication of slavery. To that end he adamantly pursues the passage of the 13th Amendment designed to abolish the practice of slave ownership.

Most of the Democrats in the House (Lee Pace, Peter McRobbie) are staunchly against the constitutional change. And even some of Lincoln’s own cabinet members question the wisdom in trying to push through the amendment, urging him instead to focus on ending the fighting. But during the final days of his first four years in office, Lincoln insists that Secretary of State William Seward (David Strathairn) and others with clout in the Republican Party (Tommy Lee Jones, David Costabile) help secure votes for the crucial ballot.

Meanwhile on the White House domestic front, Lincoln faces personal and family difficulties. His wife, Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field) still mourning the loss of their son Willie, is given to angry outbursts, crying fits and excruciating headaches. As well, she feels the disapproval of the eastern politicians and their society wives, and is prone to excessive spending as a way to compensate. At the end of the semester, the Lincoln’s son Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) returns from school with plans to join the army despite his parents’ objections. At times, it seems to be more than one individual can bear.

While brief but graphic depictions of the war make it onto the screen, along with unnecessary profanities (including the strong sexual expletive), the dominant conflicts in this script take place in the Congressional chambers and private rooms of the White House. Strong performances from a large cast of seasoned actors coupled with a powerful script that revolves around the clashes fought off the battlefield gives audiences a very personal insight into this Union leader and this decisive turning point in American history. Best suited for older teens and adults, Lincoln is an inspiring political tale of the backwoods lawyer who rose to the country’s highest office in an era that appears fitted just for him.

Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...

Violence: Soldiers engage in fierce hand-to-hand fighting with characters punched, stabbed and shot. A man’s head is held under water until he drowns. Gruesome images of maimed and dead corpses strewn across a battlefield are seen. Blood oozes from a wheelbarrow containing severed limbs that are dumped into an open pit. A man attempts to shoot another on the street. A characters lies on a blood-soaked pillow after being shot. Injured soldiers are seen in a hospital. A couple argues loudly.

Sexual Content: A woman is seen in her slip.

Language: The script contains two strong sexual expletives used in a nonsexual context, racial slurs, infrequent scatological slang, numerous curse words and some terms of Deity.

Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters frequently smoke. Other tobacco use is also shown. Characters drink on numerous occasions. A woman tells an employee to get a man drunk so he will sleep better.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

Lincoln asks whether we choose to be born or are fitted to times in which we are born. What do you think? Could someone else have accomplished the same achievements as Lincoln?

How does Lincoln deal with his grief in comparison to his wife? Why does he feel he has to maintain a more stoic approach to the loss? Why does he encourage Mary to put on a happy face? What extra challenges does the President have to deal with because of his home life?

What does Lincoln mean when he says he has determined that prophesying is not profitable?

How is the political process of vote gathering and bill passage portrayed in this script?

Video alternatives

The legacy of Abraham Lincoln has inspired many movie depictions. His death ignites a mystery in National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. He comes alive and to the rescue in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. And he is part of a homework project in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Historical dramas about his time in government include Gods and Generals. The trail of his accused assassins is portrayed in The Conspirator. Meanwhile, across the ocean, William Wilberforce, a member of Parliament in 18th century England also fights to end slavery in Britain in the drama Amazing Grace.

Home Video Notes

Home Video Notes: Lincoln

Release Date: 26 March 2013

Lincoln releases to home video in 2 packages:

Lincoln: 2-Disc Combo Pack (Blu-ray/DVD) comes with:

- The Journey To Lincoln

- A Historic Tapestry

Lincoln: 4-Disc Combo Pack (2 Blu-rays/DVD/Digital Copy) includes:

- The Journey To Lincoln

- A Historic Tapestry

- In The Company Of Character

- Crafting The Past

- Living With Lincoln

- In Lincoln’s Footsteps

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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