Lincoln and arrested development
Good movie, Lincoln. Some nice development of his sons’ characters (I spotted the Third Rock kid!). And I’ve usually always liked Sally Field. Not quite Norma Rae, but made Mary Todd Lincoln interesting. And the portrait of Lincoln is rich – story teller, backwoods lawyer, astute politician, caring husband and father – and politically adept at balancing expediency and long term goals, etc, etc.
But Spielberg left Lincoln’s political allies and opponents flat. The motivations of Lincoln are easy to understand – because they are presented completely consonant with our modern US understanding of right and wrong. His motivations are explained, nuanced. But the conservative Republicans, the Radical Republicans, even Seward… they are cardboard cutouts standing in the way of the Great Man.
At least Thaddeus Stevens is partially developed. Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens is my favorite of the “other” characters. You don’t quite get Stevens from the movie. You don’t get that he’s an abolitionist, even. Or that he was a champion of public schools. You don’t get that he was powerful, and feared. But you can figure out that there’s something complicated there, something special.
You thought Daniel Day Lewis looked a lot like Lincoln? Great job. But think about Tommy Lee Jones and Thaddeus Stevens – more expression than make up:
That’s Stevens, Jones, and Jones as Stevens (twice)