• Lincoln (2012) - This failed classic feels pointless and inconsistent - 4/10 (15/05/13)

    Lincoln (2012)


    Before you get me wrong, let me set things straight. I have loads of respect for the historical character of Abraham Lincoln and his achievements. I studied human sciences for four years at university. I am interested in topics with economical, ethic, ethnic, philosophical, political, psychological and social issues. I have elaborated opinions on many topics but I am open to listen to opinions of others if they can explain and elaborate them in front of me no matter what their point of view might be. I think it's important to create movies about historical events and characters and I'm not talking about all those biased and rather similar war movies that have flooded our cinemas since 9/11. 

    I was looking forward to watch this movie. I thought that it didn't get so many awards for nothing. I have much respect for Steven Spielberg. I adore Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones. Everything seemed to be prepared for a great film but I got quickly disappointed.

    But let's start with the positive things first. First of all, the costumes, decorations and settings are breathtaking. They really take you back in time. The artistic details are authentic, elaborated and rich. Any artist and historian will enjoy this aspect. 

    The acting is also on the positive side. Daniel Day-Lewis' interpretation of the legendary president is authentic, intellectual and very stylish. Tommy Lee Jones who portrays Thaddeus Stevens is another highlight. There is a little surprise about this character in the end of the movie that put a smile on my face. 

    Let's though talk about the negative aspects. The most important thing is the storytelling. I'm aware of the fact that this is not a biopic and that the movie only focuses on a little aspect of Abraham Lincoln's political career. But I feel that the viewers are thrown too quickly into the story. The movie features several scenes that touch the president's past and future or the issues of the Civil War. If you keep these scenes, you also have to give a few more details about them. I know American history well and was able to follow this movie but as a blockbuster for a bigger public, this film clearly lacks details and orientation. The film should have spent more time on the issues of the Civil War. The introduction and character development of the president as well as of his friends and foes should have been done in a smoother and more detailed way. The film ends with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln that is shot in the most boring way possible. If you include this detail, you should have shown the whole story of the murder, why it eventually took place and what happened shortly afterwards. If you really want to create a movie that is some sort of statement against slavery, you should have shown the evolution that the proud black people of the United States of America have gone through since the pioneer work of Abraham Lincoln instead of only showing the assassination of that ladder one. 

    Sometimes, I feel that even the makers of the movie weren't sure what this movie should have been like. The simplistic title "Lincoln" clearly underlines this issue. The movie is a historical drama but of what kind? An extended biopic? Check. A social drama around the American Civil War? Check. A political statement? Check. By trying to be all of this at the same time, the movie feels confusing and pointless. 

    The dialogues are sometimes very elaborated and intellectual but sometimes almost too simplistic. This quite strange contrast made this movie rather incoherent for me. In one scene, Abraham Lincoln has a philosophically intriguing discussion with his wife and at another moment, he has to hold a speech that is incredibly improvised, pointless and short. There are many of these two- faced moments and they really bothered me. 

    Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones do great jobs but the supporting actors were everything but important or impressive. I would have liked to learn more about the motivations and views of the political adversaries of Abraham Lincoln. Many intriguing historical characters of the Civil War are introduced like cameo appearances. Once again, the makers didn't seem to be sure what they wanted to do. If you want to do a movie about the Thirteenth Amendment only, then you should have excluded the details about the Civil War. But if you include them, please elaborate on the historical context and let the actors some space and time to show their talent.

    Instead of doing so, the movie includes many useless dialogues. Some discussions and speeches are without a doubt intriguing but what you get here are almost one hundred fifty minutes of dialogues. This is definitely too much. The makers should have included some additional elements to lighten things up. This could have been a few battle scenes of the Civil War. It could have been a few flashbacks elaborating on the Abraham Lincoln's life. It could have been the difficult relation to his wife or family as well. It could have been the complicated relationship between Thaddeus Stevens and his wife. Many possibilities were there to create a more entertaining and at the same time profound movie. What we get are only dialogues of an unstable quality as in an old fashioned theatre play.

    The weak points are much more prominent than the stronger parts. On the positive side, we have great costumes, locations and settings and two solid main actors. One the negative side, there are too many dull dialogues, more or less convincing supporting actors and many pointless scene choices. This movie is hard to sit through, even for those who are interested in the topic. I wouldn't watch it again. I can't understand all the awards and positive critics. I come to the conclusion that 2012 wasn't a good year for Hollywood cinema.


    « Scary Movie V (2013) - Love or hate this nostalgic junk food cinema - 7/10 (14/05/13)Oblivion (2013) - A well crafted blockbuster but there would have been even more in this - 8/10 (16/05/13) »
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