Boomeresque:Definition
1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Lincoln — Boomeresque’s First Movie Review

by Suzanne Fluhr on February 7, 2013 · 25 comments

When time and/or money are scarce, one way Baby Boomers travel is at the movies. Sometimes, it’s time travel.

Generally speaking, movies are not my preferred genre for entertainment; hence, I will not be offended if you are of the opinion that I have no business writing a movie review.

My poor husband, Steve, indiscriminately loves going to the movies enough that on those rare occasions when I am willing to see a particular movie, he’ll cheerfully accompany me, even to what one might consider a “chick flick”.

Abraham Lincoln, Photograph taken at Gettysburg on November 8, 2963

Abraham Lincoln, Photograph taken at Gettysburg on November 8, 1863

Luckily for Steve, I was interested in seeing Lincoln, a film that appealed to two of my passions, history and politics. (There’s a reason friends and relatives refer to me as “Mrs. Excitement”.) I was not disappointed. Lincoln was satisfying both visually and as an historical political essay. The period covered by the movie encompasses Lincoln’s election to a second term, his inauguration and then the fraught accomplishment of a signature piece of legislation. (Sound kind of familiar?)

Given my tendency towards political junkiedom, it was impossible to miss the parallels between the political calculations and intrigue necessary to pass the 1865 Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolishing slavery, and the current day political machinations (negotiations) over the issues of our day being reported in the mainstream media and on political blogs  — negotiations that even the Abolitionists of Lincoln’s day would never have imagined would involve the first African-American President of the United States.

I’ve read enough Lincoln biographies (starting with one of those little orange biographies in fourth grade) to believe that Daniel Day Lewis brilliantly portrayed the 16th American president physically and in demeanor and essence. (The fact that the actor was actually raised and educated in England was completely obscured in his performance and one would certainly never imagine that he once played a convincing (incredibly handsome) Mohican. (If you have never seen The Last of the Mohicans, it’s worth ordering on Netflix.)

Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln

Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln

Daniel Day Lewis as Hawkeye in the Last of the Mohicans

Daniel Day Lewis as Hawkeye in the Last of the Mohicans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln (Photo by Matthew Brady, Library of Congress)

In her very convincing portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln, a role for which she had to gain 25 pounds, actress Sally Field completely vanquished any thoughts of her earlier roles as Gidget, a flying nun and as a very fit Baby Boomer in Boniva commercials. Again, in addition to bearing an uncanny resemblance to photographs of Mrs. Lincoln, she captured the persona of this finishing school educated former Kentucky belle, the daughter of a slaveholder. In the movie, there are glimpses of the unfriendly sniping she endured as First Lady and of her sometimes tormented mental state.

The movie has a significant thread concerning the Lincolns’ family life in the White House where they endured the death of a 12 year old son to typhoid. As was not uncommon in the mid-19th century, they had lost another child to tuberculosis at age 4. The Civil War was omnipresent in their lives. This was not an “antiseptic” drone war. As President, Lincoln would leave the White House to visit nearby battlefields while the carnage and devastation were still evident.

Another memorable performance was by Tommie Lee Jones who plays the fiery Abolitionist Congressman, Thaddeus Stevens. He is portrayed as an irascible and skilled (scheming) politician who, when necessary, was able to exercise sufficient self control to not harm his cause.

I think the very talented producer/director Stephen Spielberg served up one dimensional, somewhat unconvincing portrayals of the few African Americans featured in the film, especially the initial soliloquy by a black corporal. However, if one wants to be generous, it is possible to view the film’s thin parts for the black characters as mirroring the perspective of even the Great Liberator that the actual lives of black Americans as individuals were tangential to the political cause of ending slavery.

Both Steve and I thought the film should have been about ten minutes shorter, ending with an exhausted Lincoln’s walk down the hall to the carriage waiting to take him to Ford’s Theater. We all know what happened after that. There was no need to hover around Mr. Lincoln’s deathbed.

If I were not the writer/editor of this blog, chances are extremely high that my opinion of Lincoln would have traveled no further than our dinner table. (Some of you are probably thinking that this would be a good thing). However, having fully disclosed that you should feel free to ignore anything I say about movies, I actually feel very comfortable that I am not leading anyone astray by highly recommending Lincoln as a “must see” film.

Did you see Lincoln?  What was your opinion of the film?

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Roz Warren February 7, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Enjoyed your review but I’m not planning on seeing the movie. I’d rather spend the time reading.

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer February 7, 2013 at 6:58 pm

That’s usually the case for me, but I’m glad I saw this one — maybe because I’ve been reading about Lincoln since pretty much as soon as I moved on from picture books.

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Steven Albelda February 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Excellent review. I agree completly (surprise, surprise)

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer February 7, 2013 at 6:58 pm

🙂

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Joan February 7, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Really enjoyed the movie. However, distressed by politics as usual within the movie and today. Wish we could change the culture of politics.

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Just One Boomer (Suzanne) February 7, 2013 at 10:43 pm

I suspect if you dissect the politics of any era — including (or even, especially) that of ancient Rome, I think you would feel comfortable asserting that when it comes to politics, the truth is that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Scheming and subterfuge seem to be encoded in our DNA.

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Margaret Cooley February 7, 2013 at 11:16 pm

I don’t see many films these days. There was a time when I’d go every weekend. But motherhood and time changed all that and now I rarely see anything that really inspires me to go to the theater.

When I heard about Lincoln I knew I’d see it. My sisters and I share a love for history, probably inspired by my history teaching mother. So when we got together at Thanksgiving that was on the agenda.

We all loved it. I agree that DDL did a phenomenal job in his portrayal of Lincoln. He was more like him (according to what I’ve read) than any other film portrayal in my memory. Sally Field was a great choice for Mary. Tommy Lee Jones was a surprise for me – I’m not sure why I didn’t know he was in the flim. I think James Spader got more press and while enjoyable I think TLJ stole the supporting actor show.

I enjoyed getting some insight into the Lincoln family dynamics. I also loved seeing that that party lines and in-fighting are not new – it’s been going on for centuries. So when you hear pundits say I have NEVER seen a more divided nation, those of us who actually know and respect our history know that is a little dramatic.

I enjoyed your review. Can’t wait to see which film gets you out next time.

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer February 8, 2013 at 5:01 am

Thanks for sharing your impressions, Margaret. The next film I intend to review is “Zero Dark Thirty”. Have you seen that one? It has both historical (albeit very recent history) and political themes also.

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Irene S. Levine February 8, 2013 at 12:00 am

I’m waiting for it to come out in DVD—will definitely see it based on your review. Nice job!
Irene

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer February 8, 2013 at 5:03 am

Thanks, Irene. The good thing about reviewing a film like Lincoln is that the review doesn’t need a spoiler alert. If you know any U.S. history at all, you know it isn’t going to end well for the main protagonist.

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cindy@thetravelgal February 8, 2013 at 12:27 am

We sound alike! My husband loves movies and I almost never go. But I did see Lincoln and agree with your reivew completely. And, for Roz, I usually don’t like going to movies based on books I have already read or historical figures I’m familiar with because the movies never match my mental image – in that sense, Lincoln was amazing. The portrayals were really quite incredible.

It’s nice to be able to time travel — that is one of the advantages of a well-done movie.

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer February 8, 2013 at 5:08 am

I agree. I think the more one has read about Lincoln and American history leading up to and during the Civil War, the more one is impressed by this film. Apparently, the sets, clothes, etc., were very well researched and were historically accurate for the most part. However, on CNN today, a congressman from Connecticut was complaining because in the movie, the two congressmen from CT voted against the 13th Amendment; whereas, apparently, in real life, they voted for it.

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Schweet Life February 8, 2013 at 2:12 am

I planned to see Lincoln around Thanksgiving but things got in the way. I’m hoping to check it out on DVD. I enjoyed your movie review and would certainly welcome more reviews in the future (book reviews would also be great).

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer February 8, 2013 at 5:10 am

I have one more movie I’ve seen in the hopper (Zero, Dark, Thirty). I’m presently reading Madeleine Albright’s second autobiography about her early life in Europe in the 1940’s. Unfortunately, it was a gift and I have it in hardback, so I don’t think it’s going to accompany me on our upcoming trip to Hawaii.

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Elizabeth Titus February 9, 2013 at 4:52 pm

I agree Lincoln is a powerful movie. For better or worse, it illustrated how little has changed in machinations of Congress, and I loved the visual image of Washington, DC and the White House in the 19th Century as well as the character portrayals.
On a totally different part of the historical spectrum, Argo is another movie that I found worth seeing this season.

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer February 9, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Thanks for your comment. I guess you took a break from shoveling out in Boston. I also enjoyed Argo. The history there was current events for us back in the day.

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kgwaite February 13, 2013 at 1:29 pm

My husband and I took the kids to see this movie over the holidays. I really enjoyed it, but have since heard that not all of the film is historically accurate. I’d like to hear your opinion on that. Glad to have found you via SheWrites.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne (Just One Boomer) February 13, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Thanks for your comment. I did see an interview with a Connecticut congressman who was ticked off because in the film, the Conn. congressmen vote against the 13th amendment when historically, they voted for it. I’m not sure what else is inaccurate although obviously most of the dialogue had to be imagined. Apparently, it is quite accurate in terms of portraying the interiors and clothing.

We say “Zero Dark Thirty” last weekend about the search for and killing of Osama Bin Laden. Depending on their ages, that is probably not an appropriate film for children under 17.

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Shalu Sharma February 16, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Nice review of the movie, I am tempted to see this one. Seems like it will be an interesting movie.

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Dale March 8, 2013 at 7:38 am

We both watched the film on my tiny netbook screen in our current guest house here in Laos and though it might not have been the best way to view the film, the film itself was interesting enough – but not stimulating.

The subject matter certainly is, even for a Brit. I enjoyed learning a little piece of world history that’s so rarely taught outside of the US.

When the credits came up and Spielberg’s name appeared we were both quite surprised. Neither of us knew too much about the film before hand so seeing his name was a shock as the film was of a lower standard than I would have expected from a director I regard quite highly.

Have you read the book that it’s adapted from, Suzanne? It’s called ‘Team of Rivals’ by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer March 8, 2013 at 9:30 am

Dale, thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m pretty sure yours will be the only comment written from Laos (although I’d be delighted to be proved wrong). I think I “get” why you might have seen this film as “interesting, but not stimulating”. I went to see the movie, expecting to be interested, but not “stimulated” as by other Speilberg films. (For example, the first 20 minutes of “Saving Private Ryan” was certainly “stimulating”.) I haven’t read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, “Team of Rivals”. If you are ever looking for some stimulation by a film starring Daniel Day Lewis in a remarkably different role, try to find “The Last of the Mohicans”. Although the story is fiction, you’ll get another good dose of American history.

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Carol Covin March 13, 2013 at 12:43 am

I saw it because I made a deal with a friend to see as many of the 13 top Oscar-nominated movies as possible before the awards, so we could have an opinion.

Lincoln was near the top of my list for best film.

Like you, a political junkie, I loved the anticipation and drama of the passage of the 13th Amendment. Since we all know what happened and when, it was particularly dramatic to understand the consequences of the timing.

Thanks for your review. Great job!

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne (Just One Boomer) March 13, 2013 at 2:43 am

Thanks, Carol. Next up — “The Emperor” about MacArthur and the occupation of Japan.

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Mike July 31, 2013 at 11:28 pm

You led me off reading this that it would be a poorly written movie review. I can’t wait to read a good one of your’s because this was a fantastic write up of Lincoln!!! 🙂

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