Lincoln: Steven Spielberg’s new oscar-contending masterpiece

Published: January 12, 2013

A president who was prepared to do what was right even if it meant losing half the country. PHOTO: REUTERS

To get right to the point Lincoln was a great movie. What made it so? Well therein lays the romp.

Time and Memorial writers have vainly tried to measure the chalice of greatness from comparisons to Greek mythology to the use of words that are rarely entertained by the common man’s diction.

My belief is that the explanation lies in simplicity.

What is it that garners tones of reverence and sparks the flame of excitement when an audience sees the “directed by Steven Spielberg” credit flash on a screen?

It is his uncanny ability to tell a story. The bedrock of his success lies in not just leaving his audience amazed but in making them fall in love with the characters on display.

While his last two ventures left much to be desired, Lincoln serves as important reminder of his stature and in Daniel Day Lewis, he may just have found his latest muse.

Lincoln unlike its predecessors spotlights a struggle against the crushing yolk of slavery rather than his infamous assassination.

The passing of the 13th amendment under the growing cloud of the emancipation proclamation takes centre stage as audiences find a president besieged by war and a divided congress (my how times have changed, eh?)

It is a story that should reverberate strongly in a country like Pakistan where the rights of women and minorities are so often and legally cast aside.

Lewis’s portrayal of Lincoln is nothing short of phenomenal – a quality that somehow managed to balance humanity with an almost scientific precision rarely seen on screen for much of 2012.

There is an aura about his presence that supersedes some rather brilliant work by his co-stars. The likes of Sally Filed’s (Mary Todd Lincoln) and Tommy Lee Jones (Thaddeus Stevens) deserve to take a bow.

My only complaint with the casting lay in the selection of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robert Todd Lincoln. While I count myself amongst the many in a growing cue of those who have been continuously impressed with his meteoric rise, his portrayal in this instance left much to be desired and bordered on being labelled ‘vanilla.’

Seven golden globe nominations is a fair reflection of a film that seems to have knocked Argo out of contention as a frontrunner for Oscar glory. Truth be told, whoever picks up the golden statue on February 24, 2013 the fact remains that the two and a half hours spent on this masterpiece could only be considered time well spent.

On a side note, wouldn’t it be fantastic if a few of our “politicians” could take a page out of Lincolns book?

A president who was prepared to do what was right even if it meant losing half the country, rather than one who runs the other way when the illiterate cry blasphemy.

Food for thought!

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly listed the 13th amendment as the 18th amendment. This has been changed.  

Read more by Shehan here, or follow him on Twitter @ShehanRayer

Shehan Rayer

Shehan Rayer

Former writing enthusiast turned journalist turned Radio Jockey; still a writing enthusiast and a Radio Jockey. He tweets @ShehanRayer (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • qaiser

    This should film should be specially dedicated to Kingdom of SaudiArabia. A perfect insight for them, so then can initiate the change and demolish this Slavery system. King Abdullah should give him his own Oscar by kick start the change in his legislation. Recommend

  • Ali

    its the 13th ammendment not the 18th. do some research broRecommend


    Best luck to Lincoln,a first INDIAN production in Hollywood by Anil Ambani.Recommend

  • Whats in the name

    How about this fact, This movie is co produced, majority produced by the Reliance Media, based out of India. This is a JV btw the Reliance Entertainment and Dreamworks Inc of USA owned by Mr Spilberg himself. Not bragging though. Just for the information of your viewers.

  • Friend

    Yes it is a masterpiece indeed! The most worthy of notice is the Lewis’s commitment and perfect chemistry with the character. Thumbs up!!!Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    Thanks for your sweeping statements on my understanding of characterization based on one sentence you read. :)

    Here is my review:

  • Black Jesuscom

    The omission of Frederick Douglas is just a
    portion of the convenient oversights in this
    film. To get the real truth about Lincoln
    and slavery you must listen to noted historian
    Lerone Bennett.

  • shah

    I don’t Spekberg he portrayed South Asians in negatively in Indiana Jones movies.Recommend