This election season, President Lincoln’s Cottage is finally ready to make an endorsement: LINCOLN! Our staff had the privilege to view the Steven Spielberg film last night and was blown away by the whole production. Funny and serious, educational and entertaining – Lincoln is an inspiring exploration of the last four months of the President’s life and his quest to get the 13th Amendment passed.
Daniel Day-Lewis masterfully captures the complexity of the 16th President. His convincing performance reveals the depth of Lincoln’s character – his humor, his burdens, and his political genius. As visitors learn on the Cottage tour, Lincoln widely used storytelling as a political persuasion tool, often to amusing effect. This certainly came through in film, as several key scenes including folksy stories. Yet the strain of the war viscerally takes a toll on his relations with his family, most dramatically in the captivating scenes with his wife Mary (Sally Field). Finally, the gripping scenes of Lincoln tangling with his cabinet best demonstrated the President’s determination and resolve to get the amendment passed.
Though Day-Lewis shines, his performance is only one of many outstanding turns by experienced Hollywood veterans. David Strathairn, as the shrewd Secretary of State William Seward, excellently portrays one of Lincoln’s closest confidantes, yet sometime rival, while Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens outstandingly depicts a Radical Republican wrestling with an undying passion and the necessity for compromise. Furthermore, smaller roles, such as James Spader’s political operator William Bilboe and Gloria Reuben’s Elizabeth Keckley (Mary’s steadfast dressmaker) memorably come to memorable life in the hands of experienced actors.
This November, if you elect to view Lincoln, you’ll watch Lincoln’s world come to life. And after you’ve seen Hollywood’s moving version of Lincoln’s heroic struggle, meet the true Lincoln, walk in his footsteps and visit President Lincoln’s Cottage.